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Arrest In Etan Patz Murder; Texas Man Gets Maximum 20 Years In Prison; Edwards Jury Enters Day Six Of Deliberations; Flesh Eating Bacteria Victim Makes Progress; "Flags-In" At Arlington National Cemetery; Hurricane Bud Now Category 2; History in the Heavens; "A Cow Pie Distortion"; Space History X

Aired May 25, 2012 - 06:00   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: For the first time in 33 years an arrest in the disappearance and death of 6-year-old Etan Patz. We got a detailed description of what a suspect says happened when he allegedly snatched that little boy.

Hurricane Bud packing 110-mile-per-hour winds, a category 2 hurricane. We will have the latest track of this storm for you.

And for the first time in history, a commercial spacecraft, a live picture on your screen right now, about to link up with the International Space Station. We like to say, let your geek flag fly, because that's what they're looking at right now.

What a view from the International Space Station as the first unmanned commercial spacecraft comes to say hello.

Hello to you this morning. It's nice to have you all with us. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: I say this with love and admiration. You have a little geek in you.

BANFIELD: Total geek and I'm proud.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho, Zoraida has that day off today. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east coast.

BANFIELD: We have a lot of news so let's get right to it. We start off with this, a cold case that is certainly heating up. New York City police says a suspect has confessed to the murder of Etan Patz.

He is the 6-year-old boy who vanished without a trace exactly 33 years ago today. This morning 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez will be in court to face a murder charge connected to this case.

Back in '79, Hernandez lived and worked in the same neighborhood as this little boy. New York's police commissioner says he recounted the crime in disturbing detail.


RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Hernandez described how he lured young Etan from the school bus stop at West Broadway and Prince Street with the promise of a soda. He then led him into the basement of the bodega, choked him there and disposed of the body by putting it into a plastic bag and placing it into the trash.


BANFIELD: There are a lot of coverage on the story. Take look at the two New York tabloid newspapers, "The Daily News" and the "New York Post," both of them with full front pages of Etan Patz. Why is this a national story and not just a New York story?

Because that face was the first face to go on a milk carton and it really spawned the whole notion of the missing children movement in an effort to stop that from happening. One thing police aren't sure about in this case is why, the motive behind all of this.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is following the story and she's live right now in Lower Manhattan. So I think the question that is so critical in this story is why now, 33 years to the day, do police think they might actually have the man?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Ashleigh, and here are some other stunning questions as well. We have conflicting information as to whether he was ever interviewed in the past.

Ray Kelly, the police commissioner says he was never interviewed. However, another law enforcement source says that he was spoken to briefly in the past. Now, Kelly say, the police commissioner that they believe him because of the specifics of his detailed alleged confession to police.

And also because of what he told to at least some family members and others about this alleged confession. Now he told them that in the past, he has said to others over the years that he, according to the police did something very bad and killed a boy in New York, but without mentioning a name.

Still police say they believe even though they don't have a motive at the time and are still gathering evidence that they had enough probable cause to arrest him. Here is Commissioner Kelly.


KELLY: Spoke to our detectives. We have a written confession, a written confession, a signed confession. He spoke for three and a half hours, videotaped statements. So obviously we believe that there's probable cause to go forward with this arrest.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CANDIOTTI: And because someone came forward after the search of that basement just last month, someone saw the news coverage, reached out to police, a tipster. We're not identifying exactly who this is and says you should talk to this man, that's when police say they tracked him down -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Susan, I've been perusing that the local papers as I was showing off at the top of this segment. Just a small picture way down here on the bottom of the "Daily News" and another one on "The Post" there seems to be very little known about this man, Pedro Hernandez. Who is he? What do we know about him?

CANDIOTTI: You know, well, police say that he was 19 years old when he was working as a stock boy in this bodega, another name for a convenience store in that same Soho neighborhood, right in the area where the Patz family lived.

Police also say he didn't appear to have any prior connection or interaction prior with the little boy. And they also said that after this happened that he moved to New Jersey, and then in the ensuing years, got a job in the construction trade, got hurt and was living on disability.

He moved out to New Jersey and we saw that the family, he was married and he had a teenage daughter, that they were escorted from their home by police because of all the reporters that were out there.

Led away and that they also have apparently talked to the police as well. But we talked to others in the neighborhood who said they're simply blown away, confounded that this man has allegedly confessed to killing a little boy. It is a remarkable story.


DAN WOLLICK, PEDRO HERNANDEZ'S NEIGHBOR: He seemed like an all right guy. He had a wife and there was a young daughter. And they were, you know, they're always smiling. If this guy like they say confessed to it, 33 years he's been living in his own personal hell.


CANDIOTTI: And police also said that they did read Mr. Hernandez his Miranda rights and he agreed to talk with them anyway. In fact, they even said that he went out to that old neighborhood and showed them the store where he used to work, showed them the basement where he said that he strangled little Etan Patz. That store now sells eyeglasses, looks nothing like it did years ago -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So many years ago, 33 years ago to the day, Susan Candiotti for us in Lower Manhattan. Thank you.

CHO: Twenty years in prison for a Texas man who tried to sneak out of the U.S. and give al Qaeda restricted military documents. The court also ordered Barry Walter Bohold to pay a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors say he wanted to join al Qaeda and tried to provide the organization with money and two restricted access Army manuals related to U.S. drones and GPS equipment. Bohold was arrested some two years ago after using a fake I.D. to sneak into a Houston port aboard a ship that was headed to the Middle East.

BANFIELD: Jurors in the John Edwards trial are beginning a sixth day of deliberations later on this morning. Yesterday, they requested something curious, 20 different exhibits involving payments made to John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign by a wealthy benefactor.

The jurors are trying to determine whether those payments were in fact illegal campaign contributions used to cover up the candidate's extramarital affair or not.

CHO: This is a story a lot of us have been paying close attention to, new details on that Georgia grad student who's fighting to survive a rare flesh-eating bacterial disease after falling off a homemade zip line.

Doctors say 24-year-old Aimee Copeland could be out of intensive care in just about three to four weeks. That's good news. Aimee's father says she's now able to sit up in a chair for a few hours, but she is still critical.

Aimee's on full time kidney dialysis and relies on oxygen because her lungs are still not fully functioning. You may remember that she lost both of her hands, her leg and her other foot.

BANFIELD: And Army soldiers will be back out at Arlington National Cemetery today placing American flags at the graves of every military service member.

About 260,000 flags in all, this is a tradition known as "Flags-In" and it goes back more than 60 years. This is also a good way to serve as a reminder the real reason that we are observing Memorial Day.

CHO: It's so nice.

Hurricane Bud now a powerful Pacific storm, a category 2 is lurking just off the Mexican coast. Take a look at bud from space, you really can see how big it is and you can see it has a real defined eye.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings are now in effect. There's also word of another storm that's gathering strength off the coast of Florida.

Our Rob Marciano is looking at it all for us. So Rob, when do you think Bud is going to make landfall and just how bad is it going to be?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, worse than we thought to answer that part of the question and the expected landfall and for a time there, the official forecast was to not even bring it toward the coast of Mexico, but it's a category 2 storm, a strong one. It was at one point a category 3 and it is heading towards the west coast of Mexico, specifically just north of Manzanillo. It's about 135 miles southwest of there. You can see the eye kind of disappears overnight.

So it has weakened a little bit and its forecast is for continued weakening as it heads over cooler waters and gets towards the coastline and gets in some drier areas.

Here's the official forecast track, which keeps it at a hurricane strength at least. It will make landfall sometime tonight and putting the brakes on and stalling out there.

So it's going to bring some waves and some wind for sure, already bringing rain. That's going to be the main threat with this into the mountainous regions that rain could cause mudslides and some flash flooding.

This is the other disturbance Alina is talking about, it was over Cuba. Our computer model has been playing with this thing, potentially as our next tropical storm already. It's not even hurricane season yet, potentially into the coastlines of the southeast over the weekend.

It really can't get that strong, guys, so if it does makes its way to the west, although may be spoiling some weekend plans, this area of the country desperately needs the rain so we'll take it if it gets there. It could become our next tropical storm maybe even today.

BANFIELD: The other thing that's swirling around on the other coast, if it does developing into something more serious they're going to call it Beryl, which would be two B names storms.

CHO: I was confused by that too.

BANFIELD: I don't understand how that works.

MARCIANO: Now two different basins, you got the Atlantic basin, which is typically the one we're most concern about, a whole different set of names and Eastern Pacific basin, which is where Hurricane Bud. This would be Tropical Storm Beryl, which is a different list.

So that's going the next name and if we get it, this early, two named storms, we've only have that happened two times in the history since we've been keeping track of these over 100 years.

BANFIELD: That's why I didn't get it, didn't understand that.

CHO: I'm headed your way, by the way, Rob.

MARCIANO: Come on down.

BANFIELD: Lay out the champagne and caviar, she's on her way.

CHO: I'll be bringing those high heels.

BANFIELD: That's the way we like it.

We're just hours away from something we have never seen before, just listen to that orchestra. This is how astronauts are playing to pull us up, real cool.

Live pictures as the Dragon, the Spacex Dragon unmanned spacecraft is on its way, to the people behind the camera on the International Space Station.

CHO: You noticed we did a music upgrade, went "Star Wars."

BANFIELD: Great stuff, total geek squad coming at you.


CHO: Fifteen minutes after the hour. Welcome back.

Right now, a private space capsule is moving into position to make space history. You are looking live there at the Dragon capsule. That picture is being taken from the International Space Station, and that capsule is just minutes away from linking up or -- as Ashleigh likes to say -- hooking up with the International Space Station.

BANFIELD: That's me, Jessica Rabbit.

CHO: NASA is giving it the all clear after a practice fly-by yesterday.

CNN's John Zarrella, our expert on all things having to do with space, joins us now with a look at that.

Hey, John. Good morning.


CHO: What are we expecting to se in the next half hour or so?

ZARRELLA: Well, in the next hour or so we're going to see a hookup -- just what Ashleigh said, when they reach out with the shuttle's, space station's robotic arm and they go ahead and they grab the Dragon.

Now, the Dragon is flying over Africa. That's a shot of mission control in Houston there, but flying over Africa right now.

What they are doing, just now we're demonstrating Dragon's ability to actually move closer, then they stopped it and they backed up again. You can see it in the crosshairs there from the onboard space station computer system. They want to make sure it's lined up exactly in the crosshairs.

And what they did was they had Dragon approach the space station and then stop to test the braking system and then back of again. Of course, that's critical because they want to make sure that they would be able to do that in case of some sort of an emergency, where they had to abort the actual procedure towards berthing.

So that apparently has all gone well and they are going to in the next few minutes go ahead and check out all the data, then we assume give the go ahead to begin the actual berthing procedure where they will reach out with the robotic arm. Don Pettit, the astronaut on the station, along with Andre Kuipers who will be backing him up, and they will grapple the Dragon, and then very slowly cut take a couple hours, bring it in to the harmony node on the space station, and berth it there to the harmony node.

So huge event today in space, first time in history a commercial company attempting to do this, and really, it is the future of low earth space operations --

CHO: Yes, incredibly.

ZARRELLA: -- these commercial companies taking over. Absolutely.

CHO: But, John, I think we need to remind people this is not just a vanity project. They're actually carrying precious cargo, including lots of food, some clothing, other supplies, too, right?

ZARRELLA: Yes, absolutely. And when I talked to Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, he was saying that, you know, the things that they need up there, computer, batteries, clothing and food. But if something had gone wrong and they lost Dragon it's not like it would have been the end of the world. They're not things that they absolutely had to have immediately and in fact Musk told me he wasn't sure but he thought they were carrying some underwear up there as well on this flight.

BANFIELD: That's important.

CHO: Listen, you need it.

ZARRELLA: Absolutely.

CHO: You got to change up there.

ZARRELLA: Yes indeed.

CHO: All right. On that note, John Zarrella, thank you.


CHO: Nice to see you.

BANFIELD: Alina, I wonder if Zarrella knows, because he's such a space nut, that today is the 36th anniversary of "Star Wars." Perfect timing.

By the way, coming up, 6:45 Eastern Time, NASA astronaut Dan Tani who had logged 131 days in space is going to join us to talk about just how important this mission is to the astronauts up there right now. And also, to the future of space exploration.

CHO: Look forward to that.

Listen to this, instead of helping him, they robbed him, they even pulled off his shoes. Let's take a look at this video closely. Police in Port Chester, New York, looking at this surveillance video showing a crowd of people literally stripping a man of all of his valuables. It happened after he stumbled out of a bar and passed out on the street. People were rifling through his pockets, they pulled off his watch, a chain and belt, even shaking out his shoes to see if there's any money in them.

He actually got up finally after a couple of hours and then was arrested, wandering through a backyard.

BANFIELD: Three plants have been shut down and over 700 people have now lost their jobs, ever since a product called lean beef made by a South Dakota-based company was given the nickname "pink slime" by a government inspector. Well, that term was reported by the media and the company that makes it, Beef Products Incorporated, says that restaurant and store orders dropped dramatically and their plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas had to be shut down.

CHO: We're talking about something from the Stone Ages literally, this is a perfect business card if you're Fred Flintstone. This day of cell phones and digital address books. French company has created a set of business cards -- yes, made of concrete.

Wow, it doesn't say how much they weigh anywhere on the Web site. They even come with their own mini wooden shipping pallets so you can neatly stack them on the desk.

Why they do this is still mystery, but the company says it will help you cement yourself with potential contacts.

BANFIELD: So, here's the thing, girls carry purses and we don't like to have a lot of stuff in those purses.

CHO: That's right.

BANFIELD: Especially heavy stuff so if you hand me that business card -- thanks but no thanks.

CHO: Going in the circular file is what you're saying, right?

BANFIELD: Thank you.

So, this is the news homeowners have been waiting for. Our Christine Romans is getting bullish about the housing market, saying it's taking a big turn. She'll explain why and how this is really news you can use, even today.


BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast and we like to mind your business in a good day.

Mortgage rates are at historic lows -- so, that's a good thing.

CHO: That's right. Christine Romans joins us with a look at that. Everyone should refinance or look at it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, if you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the five or six, or I know people still in the 7 percent range, you have an unbelievable chance to refinance your mortgage.

Buying a house, it got cheaper this week. Interest rates in the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, record lows, averaging 3.78 percent, these are Freddie Mac's number.

A new record low, almost a full point below where it was just a year ago. That is a huge difference in the mortgage world, folks, and the potential here is tens of thousands of dollars in lower interest payments over the lifetime of a loan.

Now, for perspective, this week's lower rate would reduce payments on $100,000 home loan by $48 a month compared to last year's one point higher rate. That's a savings of more than $17,000 for a $100,000 loan, multiple that by whatever your loan is.

Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages, these are popular with borrowers who want to refinance, they are even lower, 3.04 percent. Another really important piece of news about the housing market this week, home sales up 10 percent year over year. Surprised a lot of people. The year over year home sales.

Something happened in April -- the spring selling season finally showed a pulse. After five years of me belly aching about the house market, there was a pulse this morning in the spring selling season. Rates are very, very low.

There are still people who are trapped in distressed situations. I don't want to understate that. Still 30 percent of people are underwater in their loan -- but people are moving again in the housing market, people who are not distressed are pushing this thing behind them and starting to move again.

CHO: It was remarkable. You know, there was an article in "The New York Times," a week or two ago about this, the fact that, Manhattan is an anomaly, but there are bidding wars going on. We haven't heard about that in a really long time.

ROMANS: In the competitive zip codes, there are multiple offers, again.

Now, sometimes these multiple offers are for less than the prior owner bought the home, make no mistake. People are taking a little bit of a hit on the chin. But when you look at people are moving for their jobs, people are retiring, people moving to move, people are moving to get march rid, people are moving because they're getting divorced. You know, like all kinds -- life is happening and the housing market is moving again and these numbers, one after another, again, are showing a pulse in the housing market for the first time in a long time.

For you, if you were in a complicated like a mortgage that's going to adjust higher or you're in some kind of a mortgage that, look, you need to look at these rates, figure out how to refinance and how the loans are right for you because the rates are so low. I hope people qualify because a lot of people either because they're underwater or because of their credit score, they have a problem. But now is the time to do it, if you can.

BANFIELD: It's always nice to have good news on a Friday, any day actually. Come on back.

CHO: A cow pie of distortion.


CHO: Up next, find out what the president was talking about when he said this.

BANFIELD: Cow pie?

CHO: That's right.

BANFIELD: Distortion? That's weird.


BANFIELD: Barnyard talk in the race for the White House? Wait until you hear what President Obama had to say about Mitt Romney's record.

CHO: Getting ready to witness space history, the first private spacecraft is closing in on the International Space Station.

BANFIELD: And moved to tears, a young girl overcome with emotion, doing something that most of us take completely for granted every day.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Very nice to have you here with us.

And great to have Alina Cho here.

CHO: Thank you.

On a Friday, good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho, Zoraida is off this morning. It's 31 minutes after the hour, bringing you the news from A to C.

And up first, the war of words between President Obama and Mitt Romney are taking a rather, shall we say, colorful turn this morning. The president visiting the Iowa state fairgrounds yesterday, hammering away at Mitt Romney's record blasting his rival with language only farmers can truly appreciate.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week, warned about a prairie fire of debt. That's what he said, prairie fire.

But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.


OBAMA: I don't know -- I don't know whose record he twisted the most, mine or his.


CHO: Ouch!

CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser joins us live from Washington this morning.

Hey, Paul. Good morning. Good to see you.

You got some new polling to share with us, right? So what does it say?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I sure do. So where was the president? You mentioned Iowa. Alina, that's a battleground, swing state. There are about a dozen of them maybe, up to a dozen of the states both parties are really going to contest in the presidential election.

And we do have new numbers. Take a look at this. This is from NBC/Marist, of some other battleground states.

Florida, one of the grand daddies of course, look at that -- the president with a four-point advantage. Ohio, the president with a six-point advantage. In Virginia, a four-point advantage. Florida is interesting, because another poll from a different organization came out earlier this week and they had Mitt Romney up by six points there.

So, basically what does it tell you? The race for the White House, battle for the states and electoral votes, and in these battleground states, it is very tight right now.

Of course, we have a little over five months to go until the election, Alina.

CHO: Right. And I think it's important to note this is well within the margin of error as well.


CHO: It's tighter than people might think.

STEINHAUSER: Very tight.

CHO: Also, you're taking a closer look at on how different sets of workers feel about the presidential race. This is so interesting. So what did you find?

STEINHAUSER: This is very interesting.

You know, most times, we break down polls by the party, Democrat or Republican. We break it down by gender, by age, where you live, that kind of stuff.

Gallup broke it down by what kind of worker you are. And take a look at the numbers, new from Gallup, and this is really interesting. Among professional workers, and those who are people who would include lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, engineers, nurses, accountants and such, you can see, President Obama with an eight-point advantage.

Among service workers, that would include, you know, police officers, firefighters and even such people as waiters, fast food workers, janitorial workers -- look at that, a 13-point advantage.

But then it swings the other way. Mitt Romney holding a seven- point advantage among managers and executives.

They are basically dead even among clerical and office workers.

Go on to the next screen, you can see construction workers. Mitt Romney with a big, big advantage among them and who are people in the mining industry. Business owners, the same thing, and transportation workers, a slight advantage.

So it is fascinating when you break it down by profession. You don't see this very often, Alina.

CHO: You know, when you look at the new "the Washington Post"/ABC news poll that came out saying Mitt Romney holds a significant lead over President Obama among white voters who are struggling financially, this presents a problem for the Obama campaign as well.

You know, what I found interesting about what the president was doing, he not only gave that speech in Ohio, he had a Twitter town hall answering questions on Twitter which was great.

The Romney campaign, do they have anything big coming up?

STEINHAUSER: They do. Both campaigns, by the way, have taken the weekend off. Both are down. You're going to see both gentlemen, though, on Monday doing Memorial Day related events.

But on Tuesday, this is going to be an interesting matchup. You're going to see Mitt Romney teaming up with Newt Gingrich, his former rival, and a person who thought about running for a moment but didn't, that's Donald Trump. Yep, they're all going to be at Trump's casino in Las Vegas for a fund-raiser for Romney.

It will be an interesting. I hope we see all three men on the stage together shaking hands. It should be quite a picture, Alina.

CHO: One that will run all weekend long I'm sure.

Paul Steinhauser, CNN deputy political editor, thank you for joining us this morning.


CHO: Good to see you, Paul.

BANFIELD: Thirty-five minutes now past 6:00. A Florida judge says that it is OK to flash your headlights to warn oncoming drivers about a speed trap. You know, you've seen it or you might have done it.

The 25-year-old Ryan Kittnor (ph) of Lake Mary, Florida, he did it and he got a ticket for it last summer. Seminole County police called his headlight flashing a, quote, "violation of state traffic law" but a judge said no, not so. He tossed out the ticket ruling that Kittnor is protected in flashing headlights because you have a constitutional right to free speech.

CHO: I love that story.

And I love this one, too. Ryan Young got his job back, we recently told but him, a Safeway meat clerk from California who raced from behind the counter to help a pregnant customer who was being attacked by her boyfriend.

Now, Ryan's actions made him a national hero, but get this, Safeway suspended him without pay for violating its zero tolerance policy on workplace violence. Does that make sense to you? Hundreds of Ryan supporters started boycotting Safeway, picketing outside the store and the company has reversed course, announcing he has his job back and guess what? With full back pay, too.

BANFIELD: A 10-year-old Texas girl who is deaf has her hearing back, all thanks to a cochlear implant. Now that's a great story, but what you're going to see is even a better story. Sammie Hicks was born with a genetic mutation in her ear. And lost her hearing by the team she turned two. So, she has really no memory of her hearing.

Her implant surgery cost her family well over $100,000. Do you want to know if it's worth.

Well, you can take a look at Sammie at the moments doctors activated the implant she literally jumps when the first thing she hears is the sound of her own breathing.


SAMMIE HICKS: Hey, I sound --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're hearing yourself better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. She's hearing herself breathing and I don't think she realized before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK, you can cry. It' OK.

SAMMIE HICKS: I started to cry, because it was overwhelming. I had no idea what the sounds were.

JEN HICKS, SAMMIE'S MOTHER: My heart just stopped. It's, I can't really put it into words who it felt like watching her hear those little things that we never thought she'd be able to hear.


BANFIELD: There is just nothing like something like this, a story we can tell you, just tugs on your heart strings and the story is not over there. Her 8-year-old brother, his name is Jacob and he's also hearing impaired and he is set to get his own cochlear implants soon as well.

CHO: Such a great story.

You know, it's the law of gravity, what comes up must come down, in the case of the bear that you're about to see, fast asleep in a tree. The question is, where is the bear? The question is, the bear is coming.

There he is. Oh, look at you.

BANFIELD: How did that bear come down? Is he OK?

CHO: We're going to tell you about it, next.

Want to get a check of today's weather first.

BANFIELD: We had to see that happen.

Rob Marciano watching weather for us.

Hello there. Couple of storms that are brewing.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, watching the disturbance of the Florida coastline, may bring rain some rain in Florida, hopefully north of Miami, which where all the rain has been. We desperately need it northern parts of Florida and the Carolinas as well.

The threat for seeing storms today is across the Midwest, Omaha to Kansas City, also across the Northeast could see severe thunder boomers, Upstate New York and into the Great Lakes region.

Right now, we got some fog. If you're traveling out of the New York City airports, delays of over an hour expected. Once this front comes through, we're looking for some decent weather for the Memorial Day weekend for the Northeast.

You're up to date weather wise. EARLY START is coming right back.


BANFIELD: It's 42 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast.

Let's get you up to date on the news. Private spacecraft on course with history right now. That's a cool shot. It's not a moon. It's a highlight.

Look at the middle of the highlight, teeny, tiny black speck, that's the Dragon. It's a space capsule just minutes away from becoming the first commercial craft to hook up with the International Space Station.

In just a couple of minutes, we're going to talk to a man who has worked on the International Space Station. He's a NASA astronaut, Dan Tani, and he's going to tell us what this means for the future for America's space exploration.

CHO: Three missing men have been found dead in a pile of manure. Police in Maryland say a father and his two teenage sons were working at a mature pit on a large dairy farm. They reported missing on Wednesday after they didn't come home.

Officers have since found their bodies, it happened yesterday. Their bodies were submerged in the 12 million gallon pit. Police have not figured out how they got stuck there, but they do not suspect foul play.

BANFIELD: A federal jury in Texas convicting an American soldier of plotting to detonate a bomb near Ft. Hood the Army base last summer. Twenty-two-year-old army private Nasr Jason Abdo planned to avenge killing of fellow Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was convicted of six felonies for it. And that carries a possible life sentence.

CHO: After 175 years, "The New Orleans Times-Picayune" will stop being a daily newspaper. The paper will cut back its print edition to just three days a week, while publishing online everyday. The story Times-Picayune won a few Pulitzers for its coverage of hurricane Katrina.

Staff will be cut back but the publisher isn't saying how many jobs will be lost.

BANFIELD: A picture do you not often see. Take a close look as we zoom in. It is a car and yes, that is a pool.

CHO: It does happen every now and then. Isn't it odd?

BANFIELD: And you always ask, what? Thanks to some quick thinking bystanders, the guy who drove the car into the pool was rescued.

Luckily, pool was not completely full either. So, there was no issue of possible drowning, which is good. And, we're happy to say that the driver is expected to be OK. CHO: Well, that is good news.

All the money in the entire world adds up if you add it all up to about $60 trillion. But, listen to this. Music record labels claim file sharing site, Limewire, owes them more than $72 trillion. How? Well, the labels claim that 11,000 songs were downloaded illegally on limewire thousands of times.

And when you add it all up, it comes to $72 trillion. A federal judge says the industry is entitled to some damages but not the total cost. Limewire was shut down back in 2010.

BANFIELD: So, we often do the bear in the tree story, and it usually doesn't work out so well for a bear in a tree, but this is the time that we got some great video. Look at him, adorable, snoozing, completely splayed over a branch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Wild officials -- look, watch the screen -- called in.

CHO: He's fine. He's OK.

BANFIELD: The neighborhood black bear wandered into a tree. And the officer, of course, shot the bear with a tranquillizer dart. But, he nod it off in the free and needed to get nudged out a little bit. Before you get all freaked about him falling, see everybody below is holding something to cushion his fall, that's the way it works, everbody.

The bear is great. He's doing fine. In fact, he was taken out of this location which is not safe to the people around him or to him, and he was taken to a nice, cozy place in the woods.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He was so confused when he woke up.


ROMANS: Wait, last I knew I was napping in a tree.


CHO (on-camera): Why am I on four legs on the ground now?


CHO: Christine Romans in for Soledad --

ROMANS: Humans again. Human

BANFIELD (on-camera): You know what, Christine, Alina, just to say the story. we were coming in as she (ph) was reading it, there's $60 trillion in the world, this is like a big headline for me. I've been kind of stuck on that story. But, there's $60 trillion in the world?

ROMANS: I have 60 cents in my purse. That's it.

CHO: That much?

ROMANS: That's it. That's it.

Ladies, ahead on "Starting Point," I'm in for Soledad today. We're going to talk about Egypt's new beginning. Counting has begun at some of those polling stations this is morning after two days of voting in Egypt's first free elections. But is this the end of America's moment in Middle Eastern politics?

We're going to talk to a leading authority on the Middle East. He believes President Obama has lost a historic opportunity here.

Also, ahead this morning, a provocative question, are video games and porn ruining an entire generation of men? Are young men so hooked on arousal it's leading to the demise of guys and how will this damage your children?

And move over, Danica Patrick. We've got Indianapolis 500 racer and rookie, Katherine Legge, joining us live. And she's giving the men a run for their money.

Don't forget, you can watch CNN live on your computer, your mobile phone, while you're at work. Head to


BANFIELD: It is 6:51 on the east coast. Wake up, get out of bed. You'll be late for work. It's Friday, too. We got your early reads for you. Newspapers all around, not even off the presses and we got the stories.

Internet trolls, annoying right? You know, the people who go around and post nasty comments online anonymously. Yes. Annoying, but should they be banned? Believe it or not, that's what lawmakers in New York are considering doing. "Time" magazine is reporting on a brand new bill that would outlaw anonymous internet comments.

Lawmakers behind the bill say people have a civil right to know who's behind internet postings, but critics of the bill say not surprisingly this is a first amendment free speech violation.

CHO: Well, here's a story that will make parents everywhere hopping mad. A preschool teacher in Houston is accused of scaring her kids by, listen to this, locking them in what was called the monster closet. Our affiliate, KHOU, says the closet is really a janitor's closet, and kids were locked inside for about five minutes at a time as a form of punishment.

One mom says her son was thrown in the closet for laughing in class, and he was so scared that he actually vomited. The teacher has been suspended.

BANFIELD: That is just awful. All right. So, listen, if you are leaving your house right away because you're trying to catch the bus, the train, or your car is just slow, you can watch us anytime from your desktop or on your mobile phone, just need go to Al the info is there for you. We love it when you take us with you. More coming up in a moment.


BANFIELD: Space history could be made today if SpaceX's dragon capsule -- that is just cool to say, isnt' it? SpaceXs dragon capsule. If it's able to successfully link up with the International Space Station, it will be the first time that a private spacecraft has ever done this. You got a live picture on your screen right now.

That's basically out of the window of the International Space Station as it looks at the approaching spacecraft. It might look like a blinking light to you, but the Falcon 9 rocket that carry the dragon capsule into space launched on Tuesday morning. Put that thing up to where it is right now.

That dragon capsule is carrying very cool supplies like food and computer supplies and tools for experiments and clothing. We hear even underwear, which is kind of interesting, isn't it? They need underwear up there.

Joining me live via Skype right now, astronaut Dan Tani. Hey, it's good to see you. This is one of those things where we can just totally geek out. So, geek out with me, Dan, and tell me why this is so cool and so different.

DAN TANI, NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, you know, we've sent visiting vehicles we call them to the space station before, but all of them have been made by the National Space Agency. This is the first time that one -- made by a private company will come and visit us which is the wave of the future for us, for the space station. So, it's a very exciting moment.

The dragon is performing incredibly well. The launch appeared to be, at least, flawless, and I'm very, very impressed that we're this far into the mission with very few hiccups that I could tell.

BANFIELD: And I love that we're watching the -- and again, it's unmanned. So, we do need to let people know as it stands right now this private mission is unmanned, but the wave of the future is that someone like you could be on board.

So, as they bring in all this cargo, to answer me two things, is there anything cool on board in terms of experiments, and then, would you like to be on board or do you want this to be tested out a little more before you get your hinny (ph) on one of those things?

TANI: Well, the opportunity (ph) go into space, and most of us would jump on that opportunity. So, considering it's designed and performed so well, you know, certainly would like to get in line for that ride. In terms of the cargo that's on board, yes, I frankly don't know the details of it. I do know that there's care packages for the crew members up there, and those are highly anticipated, probably the first things that the crew members will get at, and those are sort of notes from home and special treats.

And so, that's highly anticipated, but there's a lot of food and supplies, as you mentioned, housekeeping supplies and clothing. So, it's stuff that we need to live in the space station for months at a time.

BANFIELD: I never expected that a NASA astronaut would tell me that notes from home and special treats was cool cargo onboard, but I hope you'll give us the play-by-play, Dan, as we continue to follow the story about this mission --

TANI: You bet.

BANFIELD: -- in the future as well. Thanks so much for joining us. Good to see you.

TANI: Thank you. Goodbye, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I know. Isn't that cool?

CHO: Yes. very cool.

BANFIELD: Astronauts, there's nothing cooler. Are you kidding me? Hey, we're kind of flat out of time, but it's been great to have you here.

CHO: Thank you. Have a good weekend.

BANFIELD: You, too, and you're going to be working out of Atlanta doing CNN all weekend long.

CHO: Starting at 5:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow. That's right. All weekend.

BANFIELD: Can't get enough of Alina. I'm telling you that. That's the news from "A" to "Z" today. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

CHO: And I'm Alina Cho. "STARTING POINT" with Christine Romans starts right now.