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NATO Summit: Day Two; Afghan Exit Strategy; DSK Could Face "Gang Rape" Charges; Robin Gibb Dead At 62; Deadly Prison Riot; Lockerbie Bomber Dies; Italy Earthquake Worst In Centuries; Webcam Case Sentencing Today; Workers Blame Bain In New Ad; Alberto Cancels Cruises; Chen Arrives AT NYU; Obama Heads To Joplin; Edwards Verdict Watch; Police Brace for New Demonstrations in Chicago

Aired May 21, 2012 - 06:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. It is getting off to a nice start this morning. It's an EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from "A" to "Z". It is just about 6:00 a.m. in the east, so let's get started for you.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Up first, another day of protest on tap in Chicago as President Obama and world leaders meet again at the NATO summit. Thousands of people hit the streets Sunday to vent their opposition to the war in Afghanistan. At least 45 people were arrested when things turned pretty violent.

The protesters are happening blocks away from where world leaders are meeting. At the summit, itself, the U.S. and the allies are trying to agree on a way to get troops out of Afghanistan without giving up what has been accomplished so far.

CNN's Elise Labott is live in Chicago. You know, I was there over the weekend and the protests actually started out quite benignly, but they seemed to have escalated. Is it over shadowing the summit?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Not really, Zoraida, because it's miles away from the conference site. So it is not reaching the leaders obviously as they go back and forth to this hotel.

But this video over the weekend of a police van driving into the protesters and believed to have hit one of the protesters initially. If you see there is one gentleman that was right in front of the van.

Later as more angles of this video came out and the police gave a briefing it seemed as if the protesters threw themselves in front of the van after it left. The one gentleman you saw in the beginning actually walked away.

What police said was that the driver was punched in the head, had a concussion. His tires were slashed, so really these protesters, some of them not just peacefully protesting, but really trying to wreak havoc -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Now what can we expect today as they continue to meet?

LABOTT: Well, today the big issue on the agenda today is Afghanistan and how NATO, the U.S. and its allies can get out of Afghanistan as planned by 2014.

Next year in 2013 at the end of the year, the Afghan security forces are expected to have the main lead in security and the other nations will be training and assisting.

But, you know, what they're really going to be doing is trying to find their role for NATO post 2014. What's going to be happening? A lot of that the way they get out is to pay for the Afghan security forces to sustain them.

So President Obama is really going to have the hat out as you say to get these allies to pay, sustain the Afghan security forces. The U.S. is going to be paying a bulk of that with the Afghans putting in their part.

But really looking for allies to contribute up to about $1.3 billion in what the U.S. is saying is this is the way we get out, making sure that Afghan forces can stabilize the country once NATO leaves.

SAMBOLIN: All right, and I wanted to talk a little bit about Syria because I was reading in all of the reports here that the topic did come up as to whether or not there is going to be any NATO involvement in Syria. What do you know about that?

LABOTT: Well, the short answer, Zoraida, is no. I really pressed U.S. officials and NATO Secretary General Andrew Fogh Rasmussen yesterday why not Syria?

The NATO went into Libya, got rid of Moammar Gadhafi and you see the violence in Syria continuing to escalate. What Mr. Rasmussen said is NATO has absolutely no intention of going into Syria.

It kind of sends a bad signal to President Assad. Many experts and people on the hill say because if he doesn't think there is a credible threat of military action he has no incentive to stop the violence.

But U.S. officials, NATO officials saying there are absolutely no plans for NATO to get involved in Syria -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It almost seems like a green light for the violence to continue there. Elise Labott, thank you so much for that report.

Coming up at 7:00 Eastern on "STARTING POINT," Sheila Simon, Illinois's lieutenant governor is going to be on with Soledad O'Brien.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It's 3 minutes now past 6:00 on the east coast. New trouble for the former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He could soon face brand new charges in the alleged gang rape of a Belgian prostitute during a party at a hotel in Washington, D.C., all of this happening allegedly about two years ago.

French prosecutors are now saying they're launching a brand new investigation. A French newspaper saying the allegations came from statements that two exports made to the Belgian police.

DKS as he's know held one of the most powerful positions in the world IMF chief. You may also remember he was arrested after a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault. But he was later cleared criminally after her story fell apart.

SAMBOLIN: Another star of the disco era has died. Robin Gibb was 62 years old. Gibb along with brothers, Maurice and Barry, formed the Bee Gees and helped define the sound of the disco era with their Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. He's battled cancer the same disease that claimed the life of disco queen, Donna Summer, just days earlier.

BANFIELD: Authorities in Mississippi are trying to figure out what turned a normally quiet prison into a deadly battleground. Fierce riots broke out yesterday at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Memphis.

A 23-year-old guard was killed in this incident. Five prison workers and an inmate were hurt. Despite what you're hearing on your screen, late last night, the prison houses over 2,000 illegal immigrants, most charges low level security crimes. Officials are saying none of the inmates escaped.

SAMBOLIN: The only person ever convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, has died. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was 60 years old.

Two hundred seventy people died in the 1988 bombing. The former Libyan intelligence officer served eight years in prison before being released three years ago on humanitarian grounds because he was suffering from prostate cancer.

At that time, Scottish officials say Al Megrahi's death was imminent and that outraged many victims' families. The bomber's death gives them very little satisfaction.


SUSAN COHEN, DAUGHTER DIED ON PAN AM 103: I think it's appalling that he died in Libya comfortably with his family around him and my daughter, 20 years old, with everything to live for, died a brutal, horrible death.


SAMBOLIN: Right up until his death Al Megrahi claimed that he was not guilty. BANFIELD: Thousands of survivors are living in tents this morning after one of worst quakes to hit northeast Italy in centuries. The 6.0 magnitude quake killed seven people, injured at least 50, but also knocked down a clock tower, reduced buildings that have stood for hundreds of years to rubble. It also destroyed $65 million worth of cheese in a region that is known for its parmesan production.

SAMBOLIN: It is sentencing day in the Rutgers web cam spying case. Darun Rabi could get 10 years in prison for hate crimes against Tyler Clementi.

A jury convicted him of spying and intimidating his gay roommate. Clementi jumped off New York's George Washington Bridge and killed himself after Rabi used a web cam to spy on him with another man.

BANFIELD: The Obama campaign releasing a new ad just moment ago. Another ripping apart Mitt Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital focuses on the closing of an office supply plant in Indiana back in 1994. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Took our benefits. We didn't have any more retirement and Bain, Mitt Romney, did not care about us as workers. They were working at the mighty dollar.


BANFIELD: Over the weekend, Newark, New Jersey mayor, Corey Booker, an Obama surrogate, surprised a lot of people by criticizing the attack on Romney's record at Bain calling this among other kinds of campaigning nauseating.

SAMBOLIN: Tropical storm Alberto the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season changing direction this morning. What's that mean if you're holding a ticket for a cruise?

I guess that's a pressing question. Rob Marciano is tracking Alberto from Atlanta. What's going to happen to those poor folks who have been planning this all year long?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know, well, you know, from a guy who hasn't been on vacation in a while, I don't feel too horrible for them.

It's not a huge storm, OK? Look at this on the radar image. The seas are rough. The surf is rough, but this isn't going to last too long. There is the radar. It's actually drifting a little to the south and east.

It's about a hundred miles off the coast line. There it is in the satellite picture again. Not a whole lot to it. The forecast is to drift off toward the north and east. The waters aren't really warm enough to sustain a tropical system.

And it'll remain offshore. So you got a cruise and they canceled it, I'm sorry. If you live along the Carolina coast line the worst that's going to happen is some big waves. So just stay out of the water.

SAMBOLIN: There's the good news/bad news. Thank you, Rob.

BANFIELD: You know what, Rob? We'll just tell them all to spend some time with your wife and your young baby. How about that?

MARCIANO: I love it.

BANFIELD: -- head on over to Rob's house. Thanks Rob.

It's now 8 minutes now past 6:00 and last night's solar eclipse was a once in a lifetime event for a lot of people. We have some more video of the ring of fire, but also a little nugget for you. What made this so incredibly different, a different kind of eclipse?


BANFIELD: It is 12 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date on the top stories with Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, thank you. Day two of the NATO Summit in Chicago will feature more talk about what is ahead for Afghanistan and more street protests.

At least 45 people were arrested on Sunday as demonstrators clashed with police. This is the picture on Sunday. Let me show you what it looks like right now. We're monitoring these pictures from our affiliate WLS.

This is a makeshift police station, police location in case of trouble today. The sun is just rising in Chicago. We are expecting -- police are bracing for potentially more protests. That's what it's looking like right now in Chicago. Good morning.

Chicago police say the NATO Summit attracted three men who planned to carry out terror attacks in the city. Officials say the suspects Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Church were plotting attacks on President Obama's campaign headquarters also at the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Actor Christian Bails says he is hoping to meet with Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng now that Chen has arrived in New York City. Chen, a vocal critic of the Chinese government left his country and will now be studying law at New York University.

Bale tried to visit Chen back in December while he was under house arrest in China. The actor and a CNN film crew were chased away by security guards then.

President Obama visiting Joplin, Missouri today one year after a devastating tornado destroyed a third of the city and killed 161 people. The president will be speaking at the graduation ceremony for Joplin High School.

Families in Joplin are still recovering from that devastating tornado. Hundreds are still living in FEMA trailers, unable yet to rebuild their homes.

We're on verdict watch in the John Edwards corruption trial. The jury was dismissed Friday after its first day of deliberations. The former presidential candidate is accused of using campaign cash to cover up an affair. He is facing six counts of campaign fraud and conspiracy.

Lebron James with one of the most dominating playoff performances of all time. He had 40 points with 18 rebounds, nine assists as the Heat evened the series with the Indiana Pacers at two games apiece. Dwayne Wade added 30 points -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you.

It is 14 minutes past the hour. Here parts of Kansas ravaged by a tornado over the weekend. Rob Marciano with the very latest from Atlanta. Things OK now?

MARCIANO: Yes, things are OK now. It's been such a quiet May. We haven't seen stuff like this in several weeks. Here's the video out of Central Kansas where this funnel cloud touched down just over this ridge.

You don't see much in the way of damage and thankfully there wasn't a whole lot. But nonetheless Kingman County, and this storm chaser caught up with this funnel as it touched down.

There were reports of 20 tornadoes across the area on Saturday including of course, a little bit of hail.

All right, We start you off with the radar picture across the South and East here. This is what's left of Tropical Storm Alberto. And yes, hurricane season begins June 1st. We are early with this one. We had our first tropical storm named on the Eastern Pacific as well a day early. So that's the first time that both basins -- the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific have seen tropical systems before its time so to speak.

All right, there you go. Alberto is not going to bring a whole lot of rain -- it'll bring some surf to the Carolina and Georgia and Florida coast line. And this rainfall with the difference, an easterly flow will keep things rather damp across D.C., Philly, New York City area as well. Behind this front, that will push some of that moisture out. Things are real nice in, say, Chicago and Denver where they get a little rain over the weekend to help out the fire situation there. No such luck in Arizona where the Gladiator especially continues to burn with only 15 percent containment. The Hewlett fire in Colorado thankfully got a little rain over the weekend, and that's certainly helped things out.

But the heat will continue across the Southwest. Highs today 107 to 110 near the Mexican border and the winds will kick up as well. Fire danger will remain high.

Out here in this part of the world you saw the eclipse last night, at least in some spots. Here are some of the pictures that have been coming into the CNN newsroom. Just gorgeous stuff. The lunar eclipse - or the solar eclipse, excuse me -- with the moon passing in front of the sun. And because it was little further away it didn't cover up the whole thing. So, you get that little ring of fire. Kind of a spooky look. I wish I could have seen it in person.

SAMBOLIN: Love it. So Johnny Cash.

MARCIANO: Very Johnny Cash. Yes. I think the next time we'll see one of these is probably at least ten years. We'll see a total solar eclipse, I believe, in 2017. So, a very, very rare thing. If you were lucky enough to see it, I'm very jealous.

BANFIELD: This is particularly cool because the ring is thick, and a total solar eclipse you barely get that glow. But in this one because the moon was in a certain position, you get to see a very large, thick ring, right?

MARCIANO: Yes. It's the same, remember two weeks ago we told you about the super moon, the big moon because it was so close to us? Well, the reverse was true two weeks later. The new moon was a little bit further away. So, it doesn't quite cover up the whole thing. So, yes, you get that annular solar eclipse, ring of fire as you mentioned. A different look for sure.

SAMBOLIN: From all the folks who missed it, thank you for the pictures. We appreciate it.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Rob. Nice to see you.

Seventeen minutes now past 6:00. She has one of the greatest success stories in American history. Who better to give the commencement at Spellman College than Madame Oprah Winfrey? Oprah was telling the graduates at the historically African-American women's college to strive for success, walk tall, and remember your ancestors.


OPRAH WINFREY, FOUNDER, OWN NETWORK: When they see you coming, it ought to make them proud. Because you're a woman. You a Spellman woman.



SAMBOLIN: All right. Google chief Eric Schmidt issuing a challenge to college grads during his speech at Boston University to tear their eyes away from their smart phones and their computer screens. Can you believe it? He said, quote, "Take one hour a day and turn that thing off. Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation, a real conversation." Fantastic advice. He also acknowledged that some in the audience were probably tweeting what he just said. Also true.

BANFIELD: Turn that thing off? Sounds like my dad in the '70s. Turn that thing off. Wow. Eric Schmidt saying that of all people.

All right. So, she is a real life Indiana Jones for the digital age. Thirty four-year-old Dr. Sarah Parkak is a space archeologist. Who knew there was such a thing? She is also a professor at the University of Alabama and she is uncovering the world's ancient secrets using space-age satellite technology. Have a look.


SARAH PARKAK, SPACE ARCHEOLOGIST: The most exciting moment as an archeologist happened when I was looking at the great archeological site of Tannis, which of course we all know from Indiana Jones.

We got satellite imagery of the city of Tannis, processed it, and literally from thousands of miles away from my lab in Alabama, we were able to map the entire city. Using this technology is an enormous short cut. This completely invisible world comes to life when you process the satellite data.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is this whole other way to use geography and GPS and light and she absolutely turned me on to this entire field.


BANFIELD: Very cool. Find out more about Dr. Parkak's revolutionary work on "THE NEXT LIST" this Sunday 2:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

SAMBOLIN: I bet she is a fabulous professor. She was oozing all sorts of passion.

BANFIELD: What a cool job, too. Can you imagine her passport?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh.

BANFIELD: Awesome.

SAMBOLIN: 19 minutes past the hour here. After Facebook's rather modest debut as a publicly traded company, the company faces a crucial week on the NASDAQ. Christine Romans with what you can expect coming up.


BANFIELD: It's 23 minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast. Wake up. Nice to have you with us. We're minding your business this morning as you get up. Worried about concerns of Greece for you because that is expected to weigh on the markets this week. Take a look at the closing bell on Friday.

Sedate right? Way more sedate than the opening bell. Last week U.S. markets had the worst week of the year. Downward arrows right across the board, all three of them. The NASDAQ losing the most ground. That's the place where Facebook was trading.

SAMBOLIN: A-ha! One NASDAQ stock, Facebook will be watched closely this week. It closed pretty flat on Friday, up just a wee, wee, wee bit. Christine Romans is here to talk about this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a disappointment. I mean, when you have a stock that closes at $38.23 that was IPO priced $38 and it actually opened at $42.05, that is a disappointment. And many are telling me the only reason it closed positive was because Morgan Stanley and the banks that were underwriters of this IPO were in there buying it furiously so they didn't have egg on their face for having a stock debut that was not successful.

The NASDAQ also coming out and acknowledging trading problems that made it very chaotic to find out if you could cancel your order, if your order was in --

BANFIELD: Does that play into --

ROMANS: You know, it didn't play into the stock price move as far as I can tell but it did play into the whole story of a botched opening.

Now, all of that said, it was not a botched opening for all of those people who are now millionaires quite frankly in Palo Alto and the early investors who are now in some cases billionaires. So, they are still making a ton of money and still really did well here. In fact, in about 90 days there will be this blackout period that expires, so some of these people will be able to sell their shares. On CNN Money this morning there is a really interesting story about what to do with all that money if you're in Palo Alto if you're watching us this morning or last night, I guess if you're still --

BANFIELD: I think that's what your advice would be.

ROMANS: I know. Buy one thing and then put the rest away.

BANFIELD: All these 23-year-old coders who are looking at their paper portfolio now and saying, look at me. I am the king of the world.

ROMANS: But in some cases, it is on paper. It will not be real money for them until their blackout expires. In other cases a lot, of this is stock options. There is also this culture of under statement in Silicon Valley where, you know -- no one is going to show up in a Lamborghini, I'm pretty sure.

BANFIELD: Not just Facebook.

ROMANS: Not just Facebook, but Silicon Valley in general. People are in hoodies and sweats and jeans and this is the way it is. In the CNN Money story, which I'll tweet out, there is advice from a guy who made a ton of money. His said his best advice to the Palo Alto millionaires is don't buy a house. Build one. Slows you down. You got all that money. Just slow down. Focus on something. Build an awesome house, and let the rest of the money grow. SAMBOLIN: Great. A man after your own heart.


ROMANS: I know, I know! Although he is probably a hundred millionaire and I'm not.

BANFIELD: But I love the fact they're going to show up - you mentioned it during the commercial break - they're showing up in the same fleeces they were wearing on Friday.

ROMANS: I'm sure, I'm sure, it's just like business on Friday except for Mark Zuckerberg showing up with a wedding ring.


ROMANS: He got married this weekend in a surprise ceremony. So, that's -- something is different for Mark Zuckerberg and his wife.

BANFIELD: That's not really over shadowed with all the NATO protests, etc. People kind of missed this one. It was like a blip.

But there you go. Happy nuptials. Mark Zuckerberg. And let's hope they had a pre-nup.


SAMBOLIN: Who knew?

BANFIELD: 26 minutes now past 6:00. Thank you, Christine.

He is finally free and he is here in the United States but that is not the end of the Chinese activist named Chen Guangcheng and his challenges. We'll talk with somebody who played a big role in helping that man on your screen get to this country right here.


SAMBOLIN: Absolute devastation in Italy. We have some brand new pictures of the damage from the earthquake that hit that region. That is coming up.

BANFIELD: Also President Obama is being called one of the most divisive and destructive political figures that this country has ever seen, but find out who it is saying those things.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker now backing off comments he made criticizing President Obama. We'll tell you about his change in tune straight ahead.

BANFIELD: It is 30 minutes now past the top of the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you. SAMBOLIN: It is nice to have you this morning. And here's what's happening. A Mississippi prison rocked by deadly riots. A 23-year- old guard was killed yesterday at the Adams County correctional facility in Natchez. Five prison workers and an inmate were injured there. Things were finally brought under control but it was really late last night. The prison houses over 2,000 illegal immigrants. Most charged with low security crimes. Officials say none of the inmates escaped.

BANFIELD: Also making news the queen the disco era Donna Summer will be buried today during a private funeral in Nashville. Five-time Grammy winner lost her ten-month battle with cancer on Thursday. She was just 63 years old.

SAMBOLIN: And it was a cheese catastrophe. The deadly magnitude 6.0 earthquake, I don't mean to make light of it folks. It shook several towns in northern Italy, crumbled a clock tower and destroyed centuries old buildings. Also destroyed $65 million worth of cheese. The region is known for making parmesan cheese. An Italian farm official says some 200,000 huge round cheese wheels were damaged.

BANFIELD: All right. This story out of Miami has a lot of people shaking their heads. Prom night meets porn night. No kidding. The Miami beach convention center playing host to two parties on Saturday night. The Miami Beach High School senior prom and also this, Exxxotica, with three x's. A porn convention. No joke.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't know about the whole convention thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think now that you know?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Miami. Things happen everywhere, you know.


BANFIELD: It's odd. It's Miami. The school says it chose the convention center over a hotel because the effort was to discourage drinking. No word that they knew this was going on at the convention center at the very same time. It was also one of the few dates available so they grabbed it. Yes. That was still the safe choice though despite all the skin being shown off next door. No word if anybody was mistaken for part of the convention that should have been at the high school event.

SAMBOLIN: They all look very well dressed.

Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina giving a tearful tribute to her mother. This was at the Billboard music awards last night. Look at that. The late singer was honored with the millennium award. Bobbi Kristina accepted it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S DAUGHTER: To everyone who supported us through it all, not just from when it was good but when it was bad to just everything, thank you so much for showing that much love. She deserved it.


SAMBOLIN: How's that for heartfelt?

Also remembered last night, late disco queen Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, and Beastie Boys founder Adam Yauch. Singer Adele won the most awards last night. She walked away with 12 trophies, earned them.

BANFIELD: It is 33 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast. A journey to freedom ends in New York City for a Chinese activist whose escape from captivity sparked a week's long diplomatic clash between Washington and Beijing. You know him as Chen Guangcheng and he arrived on Saturday almost to like paparazzi at Newark Airport. He then made his way to New York City where he is about to begin a fellowship at New York University school of law. Through a translator he thanked the U.S. government for its work on his behalf and also offered praise of sorts for Beijing.


CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE DISSISDENT (through translator): I am very gratified to see that the Chinese government has been dealing with the situation with restraint and calm.


BANFIELD: Mr. Chen escaped from house arrest arriving at the U.S. embassy in Beijing on April 26th. This was just days before our secretary of state was scheduled to travel there for previously planned economic talks with China. Chen was transferred to a state- run hospital where he remained until his sudden arrival here just two days ago.

He had spent years fighting his government's brutal enforcement of the one child policy and forced abortions in that country.

Joining me now is a man who himself was arrested in China for his activism and who played an instrumental role in Chen's arrival here in the U.S. Bob Fu is the founder of the China Aid Association. Welcome to you, Mr. Fu. If you could just maybe give me a bit of a feel for how Mr. Chen and his family are doing. They're already two days now in this country. How is it working out?

BOB FU, FOUNDER, CHINA AID ASSOCIATION: Thank you, Ashleigh. As I have heard, actually, Mr. Chen and his family are doing well, obviously still having jet lag and with the exhaustion, but he was able to enjoy some sunshine in the city of freedom for the first time in the - after the past two weeks of ordeal. BANFIELD: So, Bob, how did this actually end up happening? I think a lot of people were pretty surprised to see that video over the weekend. Everyone was waiting to see if it would happen. It did, but what were the mechanics?

FU: I think it is a great result of the international pressure, especially within two weeks' time the Congress had conducted two hearings just to focus on Chen and his fate and of course the plight of his family members and supporters. I think of course both governments of the U.S. and China have been working hard to solve this problem in their eyes. And they obviously speed up and after the whole world watching whether they are able to deliver what they have committed, to have Chen travel to the U.S. to study and rest.

BANFIELD: So, you know, part of the reason he is almost like a rock star -- you could see from the pictures the flashbulbs going off as he arrived -- was because of his remarkable and unrelenting work to fight human rights abuses. In fact, he goes back to 1989 -- for those who remember Tiananmen Square, he was one of the student protesters who was instrumental in getting that to sort of end up on the world news and then of course on our radar. So I guess the question would be: he's here now. How does he continue the fight he says he doesn't want to abandon in his country, China?

FU: Yes, Ashleigh. I think we are now realizing that if Chen continues to stay in China along with his family members he would not have the freedom and liberty and basic rights protected. I think that's why he has reached from the first deal to the next by choosing to come to the U.S. to recuperate and study first in a free environment. I think he will find more freedom, of course a better platform to speak up for what he has campaigned for. For advanced rule of law (ph), and for basic human rights and freedom, for those people that he cares a lot about. Obviously his family members that he has left behind including his nephew Chen Kogui (ph) and his brother Chen Guangfu (ph) and his sister-in-law, Deng Dongju (ph) are all facing tremendous retribution by the local authorities in the days ahead.

BANFIELD: That has to be really difficult for Mr. Chen at this point.

FU: I think he will continue to speak up.

BANFIELD: Just quickly, he is on a fellowship to NYU. That is not permanent. Does he want to stay in this country permanently? If so, how is he going to ensure the safety of the people you just mentioned, his family back home, whom he has said have already been assaulted?

FU: I think he certainly understands he cannot work shoulder by shoulder with his fellow human rights defenders inside China by living in the United States. And he has expressed that very clearly he comes to the U.S. really for the purpose of a period of study and rest. And he certainly wants to preserve the freedom and liberty to go back to china to continue his fight for the freedom and basic rights for his people. I think basically not only his family members are his concern. Many of his supporters including one guy who just put under criminal detention for simply raise awareness for Chen.


FU: Many other supporters are facing similar problems. Of course many human rights lawyers like Gao Zhisheng, a Christian human rights attorney, are also serving three years imprisonment.

BANFIELD: We certainly wish Mr. Chen and his family and his extended support group safety as they move forward in their philosophical against the Chinese.

Bob Fu, thanks very much. Good to talk to you. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: It is 40 minutes past the hour. The Obama campaign taking dead aim at Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. See the brand new ad just released, coming up.

BANFIELD: First, though, quick check on your travel forecast. Rob Marciano, busy for us this morning,, very busy.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We're getting an early start to the hurricane season. Tropical storm Alberto just off the Carolina coastline will remain there, but if you're traveling there to do some beach time or if you had a cruise booked you may want to double check. It is barely showing up on the satellite imagery. Here is the forecast track. Keep it offshore. Official start of hurricane season, by the way, is June 1st. So we are definitely early.

This front will push to the east some moisture in the form of rain across I-95. Chicago looking good, cool, and dry. Meanwhile, it will be kind of steamy and hot across the desert southwest. 79 along the coast in Los Angeles. 66 in Chicago. 62 degrees, a little bit damp in New York. That's a quick check on weather. Stay right there. EARLY START is coming right back.


SAMBOLIN: 44 minutes past the hour. Welcome back. Let's get you up to date. Here is Christine Romans. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Zoraida. Police in Chicago are bracing for a new demonstration and potentially more violence at the NATO summit today. President Obama and the allies are focusing on an exit strategy for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Meantime protesters demanding an end to the war confronted police in the streets Sunday. Nearby the summit site at least 45 people were arrested.

The music world is mourning the loss of another disco icon. Robin Gibb died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 62. He, along with his two brothers, formed the Bee Gees. His voice was an essential part of the group's distinctive sound in the 1970s.

Did you see it? Did you tweet it? Incredible pictures coming in of yesterday's solar eclipse. Millions looking into the skies catching a glimpse of the ring of fire. The eclipse, the first of its kind in 18 years, created a golden ring around the moon's silhouette and was visible on the west coast and in Asia.

And it also lit up social networks. People sharing their photos. The next one will happen in 2023 -- Ashleigh?


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Sounds like a scene out of Twilight, wasn't it?

ROMANS (on-camera): Yes.

BANFIELD: That last shot?

ROMANS: Goofy.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Soledad O'Brien now joining us live with a look at what's coming up on "STARTING POINT." So many visuals to look at over the weekend.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my gosh! We got a lot going on. STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to talk about the protests, also about the policy in Afghanistan, of course, which is the focus of that NATO summit which is happening in Chicago today.

A day after the protesters were clashing with police, President Obama and the world leaders are trying to map out an end to the war in Afghanistan. We're going to bring you live in Chicago to talk about all of that.

Plus, we'll take a look at what's next for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook began selling stock to the public on Friday. Then, Mark Zuckerberg gets married on Saturday. All that constitutes a very, very busy week for a guy who's now a billionaire many times over. Where is it all going to go?



O'BRIEN: We're going to talk this morning to Ben Mezrich. He wrote the book that spawned the movie "The Social Network."

Also a crazy story to tell you about this morning. It's about an American man who's been locked up in Bolivia. Bolivian prison 3,500 prisoners is more like a village than a prison. He's been held for almost a year without actually being charged with a crime. His name is Jacob Oestricher (ph). He's a flooring guy.

You know, who puts down floors, construction, from Brooklyn, decided to get into rice farming in Bolivia. Now, he is being held in this prison and he's now on a hunger strike to try to get his way out. We're going to talk to his wife this morning about what she's trying to do to get her husband freed.

And don't forget, you can watch CNN on your computer or your mobile phone while you're at work. Go to And I'm back on Twitter. I took a couple of weeks off.

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back, actually.

O'BRIEN: So, @Soledad_O'Brien. No, you know, it wasn't the travel. I just got kind of sick of it.


BANFIELD: I love honesty. God bless you.

O'BRIEN: You know, I just decided like I'm too busy, so I decided to take a little break. And now, I'm back on twitter @Soledad_O'Brien to all my fans and frenemies.


SAMBOLIN: Right there. A rock star. Good luck with that.


O'BRIEN: We'll see you at the start of the hour.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty minutes past the hour.

Brand new this hour, the Obama campaign releasing a new ad ripping apart Mitt Romney's record at the private equity firm, Bain Capital. It focuses on the closing of an office supplies plant in Indiana back in 1994.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Took my benefits. We didn't have any more retirement. And Bain, Mitt Romney, they did not care about us as workers. They were looking at the mighty dollar.


SAMBOLIN: So, over the weekend, Newark, New Jersey mayor, Cory Booker, an Obama surrogate, surprised a lot of Democrats by saying he's uncomfortable with this line of attack. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington for us. Boy, Paul. What a weekend for you.

So, I came in this morning and said, I wonder where Paul wants to begin. I would like to begin with Cory Booker. I didn't watch on NBC's "Meet The Press," but I did read it. And I went back and re- read it because I thought, really? Did that come out of Cory Booker's mouth? Tell us about it.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I think Cory Booker got a little off script. I think that's what the Obama re-election team would say. He was on the Sunday talk shows and he talked about all these negative attacks especially the ones directed at Bain Capital.

He called them nauseating and he said the negative attacks on both sides were just going too far, and he was personally kind of pushed back against all that. Well, a couple hours later, he put out a video on YouTube, on social media, explaining that he is still a very big supporter of President Barack Obama regardless of, you know, what his earlier comments in the day were.

Of course, Cory Booker, you've seen him, a very popular person, somebody who's up and comer in the Democratic Party, but trying to explain himself, I guess, you could say. Yes. The Obama re-election teams kind of picking up where they dropped off last week which is those attacks on Bain.

We saw them in a TV ad and a bunch of web videos last week. As you just showed, they've got a new one this morning. Last week, it was a steel plant in Indiana. This week, a supply company in Indiana. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Makes me sick to my stomach when I sit there and watch Mitt Romney and tell the American people about how he creates all these jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A job for a middle class person, I mean, you would have to work his job and two other jobs just to maintain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell by the way he acts, the way he talks, he doesn't care anything about the middle class or the lower class people.


STEINHAUSER: You know, as Mitt Romney runs for president, he's saying, I can do a better job creating jobs than President Barack Obama. What the Obama team is trying to do, of course, Zoraida, is rip down that message that he did not create many jobs when he was at Bain Capital. In fact, that he did destroy jobs. That's their message.

SAMBOLIN: I know, but team Romney now can now have booker right after that saying, stop attacking private equity, right?


STEINHAUSER: I think you're going to hear a lot about Cory Booker today when the president maybe, yes, holds a news conference in Chicago at that NATO summit. Don't you think? I think --

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. All right. So, let's talk about Marco Rubio. He was in South Carolina, and he called President Obama the most divisive and destructive political figure the country has ever seen. STEINHAUSER: Yes. He was at a Republican Party dinner over the weekend, and of course, Marco Rubio very popular, freshman senator from Florida --

SAMBOLIN: He got a one-minute standing ovation during that speech. They loved him.

STEINHAUSER: Take a listen to what he said.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: For all the policy disagreements that we may have with the president, it is hard to understate how much he inspired people across this country four years ago with his promises to unite America and lift it up. The man who, today, occupies the White House and is running for president is a very different person.

We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history as we have over the last three and a half years.



STEINHAUSER: That's some tough talk there. That's some tough language. Of course, Rubio is somebody that Romney may be considering as a running mate. And one other thing. Romney, this week, in the campaign tells me he's going to focus on education.

He's also got a speech here in D.C. to have reaching out to Latinos who may even turn off, may have been turned off by his very tough language during the primaries. Zoraida, five and a half months to go of this. Stay tuned, right? Can you handle all this?

SAMBOLIN: I'm kind of excited. So, I can't wait to talk to you about it for the next five months. Thank you.

STEINHAUSER: You got it.

SAMBOLIN: Paul Steinhauser live for us.

BANFIELD: Five and a half months to go. Yey!

SAMBOLIN: I'm kind of psyched.


BANFIELD: I'd like to have it all in two weeks like the parliamentary folks do.

Coming up, the best advice you could ever get from a world class economist. That will set your week on the right note.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: Every day, we like to get you set off for your week with the best advice that we can collect from all the people we interviewed.

ROMANS: And today's best advice comes from Nobel-Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman.


PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL-PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST: Probably figure out what you want to do and don't think too much about where you make money.



ROMANS: Don't think too much about where you're going to make money. Isn't that interesting? He's, of course, at the debate -- center of the debate about how the United States can start making money again.

SAMBOLIN: Interesting advice from him.

BANFIELD: He doesn't like austerity one bit either, right? All right. Christine, thanks.

That's it. That's the news from "A" to "Z." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. STARTING POINT with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.