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Tropical Storm Beryl; Murder Mystery In Tokyo; Etan Patz Murder Investigation; Nuns Gone Wild?; Tony Blair Testifies In U.K. Hacking Scandal; Obama To Honor Vietnam Vets; Student Shot In Boulder Home; U.S. Condemns Syrian Massacre; Lady Gaga Cancels Indonesia Concert; Companies Pledge to Hire Veterans; "It's a He"; Politics On Hold

Aired May 28, 2012 - 06:00   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: Tropical Storm Beryl slams into Florida overnight, but it's about to make a dramatic turn. The latest track of the storm straight ahead.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Plus two American men arrested in Japan, and charged with strangling a woman. Coming up, how a Nikki Minaj concert played into the story.

SAMBOLIN: President Obama paying tribute to the nation's fallen warriors on Memorial Day and saying we must return the favor to returning heroes.

This is a live picture we're taking a look of. Can we put it up again?

BANFIELD: Arlington National Cemetery, look at that, sunrise --- beautiful.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely gorgeous.

BANFIELD: You can see the Washington Monument in the background as well. Good morning. It's Monday morning, Memorial Day. It's nice to have with you us on EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: Very happy you're you with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It's 6 a.m. here in the east so let's get started.

BANFIELD: Let's start with this story. It's severe weather and messing things up for Memorial Day plans down south. Tropical Storm Beryl pounding Northern Florida and Southern Georgia with heavy rain and heavy wind.

The storm coming ashore overnight near Jacksonville Beach, Florida and knocking out power to at least 20,000 people on this Memorial Day holiday.

Beryl is arriving early. The Atlantic hurricane season isn't officially supposed to begin until Friday. Rob Marciano has been busy watching all of this develop not only this season, but the storm itself. So get me up to speed on it.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A 50-mile-an-hour winds right now Ashleigh and Zoraida, and last night at one point, 70-miles an hour, it was this close to being a hurricane and we haven't even started hurricane season yet.

So incredible stuff, 50-mile-an-hour winds right now moving west at about 8 miles an hour, that puts the center of it at about 40 miles to the west of Jacksonville, Florida. There's the center right there.

You see the center of circulation out pretty vividly. It's about 70 miles east-southeast of Valdosta, Georgia so heading in that direction. Obviously there's going to be a fair amount of rain with this.

It's going to be a slow mover. It will continue to weaken, but right now it's really battering the coastline with some strong winds and some big waves.

Even before this thing made landfall over the Memorial Day weekend we had well over 100 water rescues because of the extreme rip currents and waves that came onshore with this thing.

Several reporting stations reporting over 60-mile-per-hour gusts, we even have one over 70, not sure what the elevation is on that, but you get the idea this has had strong winds and the winds the Georgia coastline also.

Here is the forecast track, we bring it far to the northwest into southeast Georgia and curve it back across the Carolinas as a tropical depression. So the winds won't be much of a factor past 6:00 tonight.

Winds will be strong until then and then things will weaken after that and it will head slowly out to sea but slowly. So the heavy rain is going to be an issue with this thing as we go through time and some areas will see 4 to 8 inches of rainfall pile up.

In an area that really, really needs it so they were certainly hoping for something like this, just don't want all of this to come down so a lot of the dry is cakes off so we'll see a lot of runoff unfortunately.

So flush flood watches have been posted. A four to eight inches of rainfall expected in this watch area with the waves coming onshore as well so we will see a fair amount of flooding as well.

The rest of the country doesn't look too savvy maybe some severe storms across the upper Midwest. But this is our second tropical storm and the season hasn't even started yet.

SAMBOLIN: Isn't that crazy? All right, Rob, thanks for tracking that for us. We appreciate it. It is 3 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. An international murder mystery is unfolding this morning in Japan. Two American men are being held by Tokyo police in connection with the strangling of an Irish exchange student. Police say the suspects met the victim at a Nikki Minaj concert in Tokyo last week. The 21-year-old Nikola Furlong was found unconscious in a hotel room early Thursday morning. She later died.

BANFIELD: He's confessed to killing Etan Patz 33 years ago and now a member of his family, Pedro Hernandez, telling CNN that they reported the suspect to police in Camden, New Jersey, back in the '80s, but that nothing came of it.

The relative says that Hernandez admitted to killing a boy in New York and dumping the body in the trash. Hernandez is in a New York hospital on suicide watch awaiting a psychiatric exam to determine if he's competent to stand trial for murder.

SAMBOLIN: A group representing 80 percent of America's Catholic nuns will meet for three days this week to come up with a response to a harsh Vatican reprimand.

The church wants major reforms from the nuns and has criticized them for their, quote, "radical feminist themes." The 21- member board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious begins its meeting tomorrow.

BANFIELD: New this morning, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair testifying just minutes ago in the U.K. phone hacking scandal. Blair was grilled about his ties to "News Corps" founder Rupert Murdoch.

He said, quote, "it is inevitable and essential for politicians to have relationships with journalists." We'll bring you live pictures as he continues the investigation and the interrogation.

He is admitting, however, that relationships with journalists can be unhealthy. Murdoch's paper famously switched support to Blair's political party just before he was elected. His former tabloid "News of the World" is accused of hacking the phones of several high-profile people.

SAMBOLIN: And you are looking here at a live picture of the Marine Corps War Memorial, also called the Iwo Jima Memorial that is outside the walls of the Arlington National Cemetery.

In just a few hours, President Obama will be laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns there. He's also kicking off a 13- year project to honor veterans of the Vietnam War.

He'll speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and will announce plans to honor those who served in Southeast Asia from now through 2025, the 50-year anniversary of the last U.S. troops pulling out of Saigon.

BANFIELD: A couple from Boulder, Colorado, is not going to be charged after shooting a 21-year-old female student who had just wandered into their home through an unlocked door. Police say Colorado University student Zoe Ripple had a blood alcohol level of 0.2 when she entered their home early Wednesday morning.

Listen to the homeowner's 911 call just moments after her husband shot that student in the hip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She walked into our bedroom and we told her, we were screaming at her and she kept coming in the bedroom and we shot her.


BANFIELD: Shot her they did. The 911 operator then instructed the homeowners to ask the wounded student a question.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any weapons on you? What? Why did you just walk into our house and we were screaming at you to get out? She seems kind of stoned or something.


BANFIELD: Regardless, Colorado has something called "A Make My Day" law, like a castle law, like a stand your ground law where homeowners can use deadly force if an intruder enters their home uninvited and they feel threatened. Prosecutors are still considering whether or not they should charge the student, Zoe Ripple.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty two young children slaughtered in Syria. The government refusing to take responsibility, will the world hold Bashar Al Assad accountable today? We'll have a live report coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Global outrage over a bloody weekend massacre in Syria. More than 100 people killed including dozens of women and children. The United States and the U.N. blaming much of the violence on the Syrian government, but the government is pointing the finger at al Qaeda-linked groups.

U.N. Envoy Kofi Annan just arrived in Damascus just moments ago now as an emergency effort to save his peace plan. Mohammad Jamjoon joins us now live with the very latest. Is there any hope here, we keep on seeing more and more bloodshed, is there any hope that Kofi Annan will be able to help?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer to that, Zoraida, is not really. The Free Syrian Army yesterday, this is the rebel army that agreed to the ceasefire and to the six-point peace plan that was proposed by Kofi Annan.

They announced his plan dead. They're calling now for air strikes against the Syrian regime by the international community and they're holding the U.N. Security Council responsible for what's happened to unarmed civilians in Syria.

It's never been this bad and the opposition activists that we speak within Syria continue say that they never believed to begin with that the Syrian regime was serious agreeing to the peace plan, they thought Bashar Al Assad was just playing for time.

And they think that what happened this weekend, this horrendous massacre, this atrocities that happened to so many children that that just bares all that out and shows that Bashar Al Assad was never serious, was always disingenuous in saying that he would cooperate with this.

Even when U.N. monitors have been in different towns in that country, violence has not ceased, and it doesn't look like it will cease any time soon. The Syrian government does say that this is the work of terrorists, that this is the work of al Qaeda.

But the opposition activists continue to say, no way, that's not the case. This is the Syrian regime going after people that want change in that country -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: We've seen the finger pointing continues to happen so what do we do, do we stand by and just continue to watch, the United Nations?

JAMJOOM: It's a very good question. The United Nations Security Council has been deadlocked about this because China and Russia have veto power.

So every time the other countries on the United Nations Security Council want to try to do something more forcefully toward the Syrian regime, they have not been able to.

They have been stymied in that effort. It looks like by what we're hearing from the Russian ambassador to the U.N. that that's going to continue to be the case. It's a very, very worrying development what's happened over the weekend.

There are claims that atrocities are happening in other parts of the country as well even as there's this stepped up international pressure, even as more members of the international community are directly laying the blame for what happened on the Bashar Al Assad regime.

And yet still you see this diplomacy isn't working, sanctions that have been proposed and put in effect by the E.U., they have not worked. You see that even when the Arab League monitors were there a few months ago. That didn't work.

Nothing the international community has tried to do has stopped this seemingly endless cycle of violence there and it doesn't look anything can happen in the meantime that will stop it any time soon -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It is just horrific to watch. Mohammed Jamjoon joining us live. Thank you very much for that update. BANFIELD: It's 13 minutes now past 6:00. Let's get you caught up to date on the top stories here. Tropical Storm Beryl is making landfall. It happened overnight actually in Florida, right at the Florida/Georgia border.

It made a total mess for holiday travelers on Memorial Day. The storm just pounding this region with torrential rains, powerful winds and moving along the Atlantic coastline as we speak.

SAMBOLIN: Kind of sobering warning on this Memorial Day weekend from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He says it will be disastrous if Congress allows $500 billion in defense cuts to take effect in January as scheduled. Those cuts triggered by Congress's failure last year to reach a deficit reduction deal.

BANFIELD: Security concerns forcing Lady Gaga to cancel her concert scheduled for next week in Indonesia. This decision coming after Islamic hardliners denounced her costumes and her sexy dance moves saying they were forbidden by Islamic law.

Lady Gaga tweeting an apology to all of her fans and sending a message to her critics saying there is nothing holy about hatred.

SAMBOLIN: The parents of missing U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl leading hundreds of thousands of motorcyclist in the annual Rolling Thunder rally. That's in the nation's capital. It tells each Memorial Day weekend to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action.


ROBERT BERGDAHL, FATHER OF POW BOWE BERGDAHL: Thanks to you our POWs and MIAs will never be forgotten. And they never will be forgotten. Bowe, if you can hear me, you are not forgotten and so help me God, you will come home. We will not leave you behind.


SAMBOLIN: The 26-year-old Army Sergeant was captured in June of 2009 in Afghanistan. He's currently America's only known prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

BANFIELD: Scotland's Franchitti captured the flag at the Indy 500. If he sounds familiar, because he's the husband of actress Ashley Judd. He won the race for the third time in five years after Japan's Takumo Sato tried to pass him on the last lap but crashed when he tried doing it.

We're going to meet the champion and hear how he did it when Dario Franchitti joins us live in the 7:00 in the hour on "STARTING POINT."

SAMBOLIN: The men in black are the men in green. "MIB3" took in $55 million in its debut weekend to knock "The Avengers" out of the top spot of the box office. "Avengers" fell in second place after three weeks, with $37 million.

BANFIELD: Look ma, no hands. Look close at this one, at first glance, home run by Cincinnati Reds Todd Frazier looks like a typically done. You can see, he loses the bat but oh those lucky folks, up close, do you see the bat in his hands? The spotlight shows it is not in Frazier's hands when you make contact with the ball.

So, this is what you call a hands free home run. Awesome, no matter how you slice it.

SAMBOLIN: Los Angeles police would like a world with teen heartthrob that is Justin Bieber. He is being investigated for possible misdemeanor battery against a photographer. The photographer claims Bieber hit him after he snapped pictures of the singer with his girlfriend, actress Selena Gomez.

After the alleged incident the photographer was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. Bieber's handlers are not responding to phone calls.

It's 17 minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And helping veterans land jobs on this Memorial Day, what could be better than that. There are businesses doing their part, we'll highlight one in particular -- really doing something terrific to help those who put their lives on the line for us, get the jobs they deserve. We'll tell you about it in a minute.

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


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Washington, D.C. It's 21 minutes past the hour.

And these are live pictures you're looking at over Marine Corps Memorial, also own as Iwo Jima Memorial, right outside the walls of Arlington cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

In just a few hours from now, President Obama will be there, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

BANFIELD: A beautiful shot with the sunrise behind it. Good reminder of why you may have the day off today, folks. It's Memorial Day, so think about our fallen soldiers.

In the meantime, we're minding your business this morning at 21 minutes past 6:00. Coming off a pretty good weekend actually. The NASDAQ leading the way, rising more than 2 percent but hold your horses, those are three very pretty arrows.

But the picture for May is not as rosy. It's shaping up to be the worst month for the Dow and the S&P since last November, mostly because of that pesky debt crisis in Europe.


Christine Romans is always keeping an eye on the economy for us and today she is focusing on veterans.

I love this story you are about to bring us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This story I was coming back from Ali Velshi's house in Philadelphia actually a couple of months ago and I was driving along the highway and I saw this big sign, the biggest help wanted sign I have ever seen and said I've got to do a story about this company.



ROMANS (voice-over): For Dave Devanzo, to find a job, all it took was a sign.

DAVE DEVANZO, U.S. NAVY (RET.): I'd had been driving past that Modern sign probably for, you know, before I moved out here 12 years ago, for probably about, you know, 18 years before that.

ROMANS: This billboard off I-95 outside of Philadelphia, construction equipment company Modern Group wants the hire people just like him, veterans. He retired from the Navy in August after 29 years.

DEVANZO: It was a bit of a shock I think for me. I put all the applications out, all the work I had done, put my feelers out there, and got little response, very little response. So I saw the sign out front, and I called the HR department, sent them my stuff, and the rest is history.

ROMANS: And that's what led him to a job as a shop technician here.

DEVANZO: I will tell you this, my first ever job interview, and I'm 47 years old right now, happened at Modern Group. So it was a change, definitely a change.

ROMANS: Dozens of applications poured in to Dave Griffith, Modern's president and CEO.

DAVID E. GRIFFITH, PRES. & CEO, MODERN GROUP LTD.: You can imagine the visibility that that sign gets.

ROMANS: He's hired 27 veterans and reservists from all branches of the military.

GRIFFITH: They tend to be more disciplined, more focused, more sensitive to the customer. I think there's a greater attention to detail from folks coming out of the military.

JASON BLAIR, U.S. NAVY (RET.): He has shown me quite a few things around here.

JERRY MILLER, U.S. NAVY (RET.): Yes, we've got to help each other out. You know, we're all on the same team. Inevitably our mission is to get the entire job done and keep this company rolling.

ROMANS: There's a huge push to hire more veterans. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has been steadily improving, 9.2 percent in April, but it's still higher than the national average.

Some 40 major U.S. companies have pledged more than 100,000 jobs to veterans by 2020, including Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Already this year, 12,000-plus vets have been hired.

The fields that have been hiring veterans? Government, health care, tech, and manufacturing.

GRIFFITH: I feel very strongly as the CEO that our obligation is to honor that service. If we can do that in such a way that we can hire these young men and women and bring them on board and also do good for our company and our stakeholders, I can't imagine why I wouldn't do that.

DEVANZO: What we deal with in the military, it's nothing more than really a snapshot of society anyway. So coming here, working with these guys here, it's just -- I think it's a perfect transition.


ROMANS: Perfect transition. So that's just one company, and there are a lot of other small and mid sized companies either because the owner or the managers are veterans or because they found that some of these skills on the battlefield really translate to their business are hiring more veterans. I mean there's doing it because it's the right thing to do and also doing it because it's the right business thing to do, this and other cases turning out to be the right thing and the right business thing are the same thing.

SAMBOLIN: It's great. Thank you, that's a fabulous story.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Very necessary.

And what's the one thing we need to know today?

ROMANS: The one thing that veterans need to know today as they're trying to get a job, leave the yes, ma'am and yes, sir on the battlefield or in the military and this is why. Lot of job coaches are saying people are coming back, having their first interview and really answering questions with the military mind-set, not telling a lot about themselves, but just receiving from the hiring manager.

You got to be a little more forceful -- no yes, ma'am, yes, sir. This is what I can do. This is what I did in the military and how I can use those skills in civilian life. This is how I solve problems. This is how I lead. These are all things we do in the military.

Specifically technical skills also, make sure you are really illustrating your technical skills because that is what hiring managers want to see.

BANFIELD: Don't walk in with the newspaper, or with the iPod, right?

SAMBOLIN: You now, it's funny in your story the gentlemen were talking, it was the owner of the company saying these folks are sensitive to the customers' needs, putting everybody else first.

ROMANS: Totally.

SAMBOLIN: That's really good.

ROMANS: The yes, ma'am and yes, sir is for the customer, that's the most important thing, not the boss. The boss wants to know a lot about you. The yes, ma'am and yes, sir are for the customer.

BANFIELD: That's a real paradigm shift for vets because they have in that mode for a long time.

ROMANS: You're right. It really is.

BANFIELD: That's very polite. But you're right.

ROMANS: It's easy to get over that and then you translate the skills. Best of luck to everybody out there.

BANFIELD: Awesome information, perfect for Memorial Day. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour. For the first time in history a man is picked as a military spouse of the year. I'm going to talk to him live right here on CNN right after a really quick break.

BANFIELD: And if you're leaving the house right now, don't worry, watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to Get everything you want there.


SAMBOLIN: It is the first tropical system to make landfall in the United States this season. It's early. We are tracking tropical Storm Beryl for you this morning.

BANFIELD: And remembering why you have a three-day weekend. President Obama paying tribute to the nation's fallen warriors on Memorial Day, say we must commit to and care for the veterans who are coming home.

SAMBOLIN: And a 16-year-old kid comes up with a solution to a 300-year-old problem, first posed by Sir Isaac Newton. It's all about gravity this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. We are happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Hi, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

Let's get you caught up on top stories.

Tropical storm Beryl pounding the Atlantic coastline with flooding, rain and high winds and derailing a lot of Memorial Day festivities in the process, too. The storm just barreled into the northern Florida coastline overnight making landfall near Jacksonville Beach. Parts of Florida and Georgia could get as much as eight inches of rain. Some areas could get actually 12 inches.

Rob Marciano has been busy trying to track this thing, finding out who is going to get hit the hardest and who escape.

So, what is the story for everybody down there.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Rainfall for sure. Right now, they're still getting winds and big waves along the coastline, winds 50 miles an hour sustained, so we've got power out for over 20,000 people, potentially more as it continues to wind down. The center of it is onshore, moving to the West about eight miles an hour. You see the center of it is probably about 40 miles to the west of Jacksonville and it's obviously rotating in a fair amount of rainfall and that's going to be the main player once the winds die down.

But that won't happen for another 12 or so hours. So, we'll see -- still see winds gust as high as what we've seen in the last 12 hour. These are from last night over 60-mile-an-hour winds along the beach in northern Florida. Forecast track brings it inland, weakens to a tropical depression.

So, the winds will weaken and eventually get picked up and head out to sea. Bu this will take some time and because of that, the rainfall will persist in the areas for a decent amount of time, good 48 hours. So, flash flood watches are posted for this area. You could see several inches of rainfall.

Here is the thing -- they need it. Bring it on. This area has extreme drought so they'd like to get it drawn out during a longer period of time, but beggars can't be chooser at this point. So, they're going to run the risk of seeing some flash-flooding. Four to eight inches locally or higher.

Obviously a washout for this area, Memorial Day weekend plans along the beach. But again they could use the rainfall and now they're getting it in a hurry right now.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know how to feel about that, good for them, bad for them, probably a little bit of both.

MARCIANO: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Rob.

Thirty-three minutes past the hour.

Call it a sign of the times for the first time, the military spouse of the year is not a she. Here he is, Jeremy Hilton was chosen from hundreds of nominees and is himself an Air Force Academy graduate and a former Navy officer.

Jeremy Hilton, "Military Spouse" magazine's Spouse of the Year. Congratulations to you. It's really nice to see you this morning.

So, first, it was Air Force Spouse of the Year, and then you went on to win the big one, Military Spouse of the Year.

I was reading how they came up with the announcement and they were trying to keep the gender out of it because you were the only male in the running. How does it feel?

JEREMY HILTON, MILITARY SPOUSE OF THE YEAR: It's actually a huge honor obviously and it was quite a shock, considering the other five ladies who I was going up for the overall award are all pretty amazing, and so to be selected as a final Military Spouse of the Year is obviously quite an honor.

SAMBOLIN: Now your wife is Lieutenant Colonel Renee Hilton. You have two children, Jack is 9 years old and Kate is 7 years old.

You both served. How did you make the decision you are going to be the one to stay home with the children in?

HILTON: It was a practical decision, in the sense that when Kate was born, she was obviously born with a number of pretty significant medical issues. When you looked at the deployment schedule for the Navy versus the Air Force I would have been gone perhaps as much as three-quarters of the year and for all military families it's a tough situation dealing with a single parent household and particularly dealing with a child with a disability, that is that much more significant.

So we made the most practical decision which was for me to get out and take care of her.

SAMBOLIN: Do you enjoy being at a stay at home dad?

HILTON: I do, it's a lot of fun. There are days where you want to pull out your hair like any other stay at home parent, but the good certainly outweighs the bad.

SAMBOLIN: Now, it's not popular to be a stay at home dad, right? We have some data here. According to the U.S. Census, in 2010, there were an estimated 154,000 stay at home fathers, but we are comparing to 5 million moms.

Is that difficult for you, when you discuss this with other men, perhaps?

HILTON: It can be at times. Certainly most of us guys find outlets in which we can become involved obviously with our children's lives and other areas of our life. Obviously for a lot of us guys, a lot of us are veterans that stay at home with our kids, and so you know, we're all part of this kind of finding ways to be part of national security and supporting our female service members and making sure our kids grow up as healthy and safe as they possibly can.

SAMBOLIN: I contend that you do as good of a job or men do as good of a job as women do. Do you have any tips for men who make this decision like you did?

HILTIN: I think getting your head wrapped around the concept that what you're doing is just as important as what any other lady might do. Obviously for men becoming involved in some sort of groups or other, we have in the D.C. metro area. there's a D.C. metro stay at home dads group where we get out and do things together.

SAMBOLIN: Now, I don't want to leave without talking about your mission, because this is a greater good you're serving as well for everybody in the military, and it has to do with disabled children. Can you tell us about that?

HILTON: Sure, obviously my larger goal relates to helping military kids with disabilities take care of themselves long-term. One of those aspects is a bill in Congress, currently it passed the House as part of the defense bill, it's the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act. Right now it's being considered in the Senate, and we're hoping that we can find enough senators to include it in the Senate's version of the defense bill so it becomes law.

What it does is, for example, some of our wounded warriors who are actually, might have a child with autism, when they're forced to medical separate or medically retired, their children lose access to medical treatment for the autism and this bill fixes that.

SAMBOLIN: Well, congratulations. We wish all of the luck. Also with your children Jack and Kate, 9 years old.

HILTON: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Jeremy Hilton, 2012 Military Spouse of the Year, thanks for being with us.

HILTON: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thirty-seven minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast. New fallout from the North Carolina pastor who delivered an anti-gay sermon that went viral online. Authorities say someone tried to burn his church down. It didn't work. They only managed to damage power lines outside of the church. All this while thousands of demonstrators rallied outside of that church. It's called the Providence Road Baptist Church, this happening on Sunday.

The effort to protest its Pastor Charles Worley. You may remember that Worley gave a sermon on Mother's Day calling for gay people and lesbians to be thrown behind electric fences to eventually die out. Surprisingly many members of the congregation are supporting him.

SAMBOLIN: One young man, one big riddle, a century's old math problem put to rest by a 16-year-old. Shouryya Ray solved a math problem posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago. Ray's the solution makes it possible to figure out the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance.

Ray closed another unsolved math problem posed in the 19th century, the Indian born teen who learned calculus at 6 says his curiosity and school boy naivety led him to all of these the discovers.

BANFIELD: Sixteen. We have a 15-year-old who won the International Science Fair with a detection for cancer. What's it with kids these days?

SAMBOLIN: Uber bright.

BANFIELD: Oh, I love.

Thirty-nine minutes now past 6:00.

Mitt Romney pulling out the Trump card literally pulling out the Trump. The Republican candidate teaming up with the Donald to help raise money. But here's the question, with what's coming out of the Donald's mouth, could this hurt the candidate more than he was thinking? You'll find out in a moment.


SAMBOLIN: It is 43 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

Two American men are being held by Japanese police in connection with the strangling of a female Irish exchange student. Police say the suspect met the victim at a Nicki Minaj concert in Tokyo last week. She is identified as 21-year-old Nicola Furlong. She was found unconscious in a Tokyo hotel room early Thursday morning.

BANFIELD: A memorial super day soaker it seems for the people in Florida and in Georgia as tropical storm Beryl comes calling. The storm making landfall near Jacksonville Beach. As much as eight inches of rain is the examined. Some areas could get a whole foot of rain as well.

SAMBOLIN: Harnessing the sun like never before. Germany set a renewable energy record this weekend, a clean energy think tank said solar power provided the country with one-third of its energy needs on Friday and accounted for half of the power grid on Saturday.

Germany decided to wean itself off nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year. It's already shut down eight plants in the past year.

BANFIELD: And for all you astronomers, break out your telescope and look to the sky tonight because you'll be able to check out a half moon and mars. Probably won't look like what you're seeing on your screen, but if you are looking to check out the red planet it will look as a bright yellow-orange spot above and to the left of the moon. Mars is actually moving away from earth so this could be your best chance to see the planet for the next few months.

And if you're able to snap a picture because you have fancy, expensive equipment, tweet it, sent to us @EarlyStartCNN.

SAMBOLIN: You're not going to see any of these things that we're showing your right now. I just want to make that clear.

So, an unlikely discovery made it an unlikely way in Wichita, Kansas. When he took it home, he opened the old cartridge and found a photograph, but the boy had no idea just how impressive the discovery was until he showed his grandmother, Lewis, who identified the young man as her own son who had died in a car crash 23 years ago.

Lewis Logan (ph) says the family has no known connection to the owner's of the garage sale. The man who sold the camera says he goes to a lot of garage sales and couldn't recall where he purchased it. Edison says he bought the camera because it was pretty cool. How bizarre is that?

All right. A special look inside the hit series, "Games of Thrones." Fans of the show recognize the Delf Rocky (ph), I believe that's how -- it's that what it is, Delf Rocky, people? Death Rocky (ph), I don't know, in their unique language. This week's "Next List" features a man who created that language. His name is David Peterson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In seasons to come, Danny and the death Rocky (ph), they are first and foremost people, and so, wherever she goes, they follow. But at the same time, yes, as she's traveling through many different lands, there are other languages that she comes across.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have other languages coming up on the show that are not Death Rocky (ph) but also need to be invented, and we're hoping that David will do those for us as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personally, I would love to keep creating languages for projects like "Game of Thrones" for TV shows, for movies. I mean, that's kind of a dream of everybody's to sit down and create a language.


BANFIELD: That "Game of Thrones," man, that stuff, you got to like to cover one eyes as you're watching that sometimes. It's pretty racy stuff.

SAMBOLIN: But some people here love it. BANFIELD: Oh, hey, no, one of the best things on TV, without question, just make sure the kids are not around.

Forty-six minutes now past 6:00. Christine Romans is filling in for Soledad O'Brien this morning on "Starting Point," joins us now. Got the orange memo, I see.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, look, it's really a busy news day, believe it or not for a holiday. We're going to start on "Starting Point" with Syria, sickening pictures of hundreds dead, including many children. The weekend massacre in Syria triggering shock around the world. What should be done to stop the violence? What can be done and what are we doing?

And paying tribute to the nation's fallen warriors on Memorial Day. The chairman of the joint chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, will join us live.

Plus, meet the four-year-old boy who didn't want to wear his hearing aid because he told his mom, superheroes don't wear hearing aids. So, she wrote to comic's publisher Marvel asking for help, and boy did they come through. You won't believe it.


ROMANS: And he's the richest man in hip-hop with an estimated $550 million, but Sean "Diddy" Combs won't have to pay for his son's college tuition. Is it fair that his 18-year-old son is getting a $54,000 merit scholarship?

Don't forget, you can watch CNN live on your compiter or your mobile phone while you're at work. You can head to That's all on "Starting Point."

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that's going to be a talker.


BANFIELD: Fifty-one minutes now past 6:00. President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on one thing today, it is time to put aside politics and remember our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day.

The president's plans, he's going to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery today, and then, he'll head over to the Vietnam Memorial to honor the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in that conflict.

Mitt Romney, in the meantime, is expected to officially clinch the GOP nomination tomorrow, but today, he'll be joined by Senator John McCain at a Memorial Day ceremony in San Diego. CNN's political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington, D.C. this morning, and Tuesdays in Vegas could be very risky business for one Mitt Romney. Couldn't it, Paul?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, because you never want to be outshined by the warm-up act, I guess, you could say. The campaign gets back in full swing on Tuesday after the holiday weekend. Mitt Romney campaigns early in Colorado to the battleground state, and then, (INAUDIBLE) he goes to Nevada, another battleground state, and guess what, he's going to fundraiser. He's teaming up with Donald Trump at Trump's hotel (ph).

You remember Trump thought about running for the White House as a Republican last year, made all the hot waves (ph) as he often decided not to. And then, earlier this year, you can see from these pictures, that's when he endorsed Mitt Romney, but you know, Donald Trump has been bringing up the birther issue again.

It not just last year, it's come up in some of his tweets and some of his comments. And the Romney campaign has been forced to react to them. Take a listen to what a top Romney adviser said to our Gloria Borger on "Situation Room" on Friday.


ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ADVISOR TO ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Mitt Romney accepts that President Obama was born in the United States. He doesn't view the place of his birth as an issue in this campaign. We have many serious challenges facing this country dealing with jobs and the economy, that's where we should center our, the discussion. And as I said, you know, Mitt Romney has made it clear that this is not an issue for him.


STEINHAUSER: When you team up with Donald Trump, there are few pluses, but there a whole lot of minuses. It's a little bit of a risky business. And guess who else is going to be at that fundraiser? Newt Gingrich, first time we're going to see Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney together since Gingrich dropped out.

And as you mentioned, yes, tomorrow as well, the Texas primary, Romney is expected to win, obviously, and that should take him over the top, 1,044 delegates needed to close the nomination. So, what was all but presume should be official after tomorrow.

BANFIELD: The math will actually play out tomorrow, and it won't be the headline we've always been thinking it was going to be.

STEINHAUSER: I know. We've been talking about the number for so long, and now, it's just an afterthought.

BANFIELD: I know, but I do think it will be outshine by the whole Trump thing, because remember the last time that Mitt Romney and Donald Trump stood beside each other so that they could actually do an endorsement. It was like, awkward, remember? We'll see how it goes tomorrow. Paul Steinhauser, nice to see you. Thanks.


SAMBOLIN: All right. And, let's get a quick check of your travel forecast with Rob Marciano, busy guy this morning -- Rob. ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning again, guys. Yes. We're watching tropical storm Beryl, and if you live anywhere on the coastline from Charleston down to Daytona Beach, not the best Memorial Day for you as this thing continues to rotate. But severe weather just outside of Dallas through Chicago as well.

Detroit, if you're traveling through there, large hail, damaging winds possible, even a slice of New England and upstate New York as this frontal system slowly makes its way to the east, very, very warm ahead of it, still, also hot across the desert southwest, some rain across the northwest corner of the U.S., 62 in Seattle, 94 in Memphis, that is steamy.

Eighty-eight degrees, pretty steamy in New York City as well and 92 degrees in D.C. You're up to date weather wise. EARLY START is coming right back.


BANFIELD: Fifty-eight minutes now past 6:00 on the east coast. Time for your "Early Reads."

Seventeen-year-old honor student thrown in the slammer for missing too many days of class. I mentioned she was an honor student. She is an honor student. Here's the deal. She says she's working two jobs to try to support her siblings because her parents took off. Houston affiliate, KHOU, says Diane Tran (ph) is now living with one of her employers.

She says she's, sometimes, so exhausted from working those two jobs that she misses school. The judge said he wanted to make an example of Tran so he ordered her to spend 24 hours in jail and pay a $100 fine. Did I mention she was an honor student?

SAMBOLIN: A 19-year-old tech entrepreneur spends two months as a squatter at the AOL building in Palo Alto. The tech website, CNET, says Eric Simons (ph) got a building pass for working for a program that was fronting space there. When the program ended, Simons didn't have rent for money, so he decided he was going to stay there.

He ate free food, took showers at the employee gym, and slept on the couch. AOL employees thought Simons was just a really hard worker. Eventually though, he was kicked out by security. An AOL senior vice president says, quote, "it was always our intention to facilitate entrepreneurialism in the Palo Alto office, we just didn't expect it to work out so well.

BANFIELD: Glass half full, you can say he's pretty resourceful, right? Don't have money for rent, stay where you at until they kick you out. That is EARLY START, the news from "A" to "Z." It was nice to have you here on this Memorial Day Monday. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Christine Romans starts right now.