Return to Transcripts main page


Beryl Now a Tropical Depression; Assassination Plots Linked to Iran; "He Was Preaching Bigotry"; Romney Can Seal GOP Nomination In Texas

Aired May 29, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: They ruined Memorial Day for a lot of people, and she's not done yet. Beryl gaining strength again. The Carolinas could be the next target of the storm.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, he held police at bay for 15 hours from atop of the crane. This morning, the tense standoff in Texas is finally over.

BANFIELD: And radioactive tuna caught off the U.S. coast after a 6,000 mile migration from Japan, but is it safe to eat?

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. We are happy you are with us. It is 5:00 in the East.

So, let's get started.

BANFIELD: And let's start with this -- the fallout from tropical storm Beryl. All along the East Coast this morning, it is now a tropical depression. But guess what? Building steam again and it's expected to be a tropical storm before we know it again.

The storm is dumping as much as 10 inches of rain in northern Florida and southern Georgia. It's also knocking out power to tens of thousands of people right across that region. And now, Beryl has its eyes on the Carolinas.

CNN's Rob Marciano has been tracking the storm from the weather center, keeping an eye on it all for throughout the night. Also, CNN's George Howell, live this morning in Tybee Island, Georgia.

And I'm assuming that things are only just starting to get bad out there, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, we are expecting to be to be a real soaker. We're less than maybe 10 minutes away from seeing pretty strong heavy rain coming to this area, the center of the storm, moving toward Tybee Island, where we are -- the Savannah area, just a few miles away from us.

Ands just a few days ago, the story here was the wind event. A strong wind event that knocked down trees, knocked down power lines. Today, we are expecting that sustained rain over this area to possibly cause some problems.

And also, so that you're aware, the beaches here -- people are allowed on the beaches, but they are not allowed into the water. The concern there, these rip currents, these powerful currents that can pull you into the water. People say, the life guards say, if you're caught in a rip current, best to swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current and get back to shore. But no one is allowed in the water at this time, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So, what about the people? Is anybody being told to either get out or hunker down? Or are they boarding things up?

HOWELL: You know, I think, right now, and given that this city, this area, has been impacted twice quite frankly, with this storm, people are prepared for it. We saw yesterday, tourism was down in this area. Not nearly as many people as you would expect over the Memorial Day weekend.

So, people are you could say hunkered down and ride through this storm. But, again, a lot of rain expected today and some flash flood watches have already been issued through the area.

BANFIELD: And you know how some of those surfers are. Despite all the warnings, they still go out there. Was there any evidence of that as it was starting to get dark? I know it's about to get light.

HOWELL: Well, we saw life guards. They are all along these beaches. They're making sure that no one gets in the water. That concern about these rip currents is a serious concern.

We caught them looking out for people, watching people preventing them from getting in the ocean.

BANFIELD: All right. George Howell, be careful out there. Obviously keep an eye on things for us if you would. I appreciate that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Now to our Rob Marciano, also tracking the storm. What can you tell us, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's moving very, very slowly. So we know that about this thing. But what's impressive about it, it's really held its structure very well. It's held together inland over 24 hours now. And it will probably hold its designation as a tropical depression here for the next 24.

The center of it is just to the east of Tallahassee. And most of the rainfall is to the east of the center, which is fairly typical. So, it's tapping moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. From Jacksonville, which obviously saw the brunt of the storm yesterday.

But now, these rain bands are beginning to rotate up, towards Tybee Island and towards Savannah. Likely won't get all the way to Atlanta. But this is where the bulk of the rain is going to be.

And this is where we saw the bulk of the rain yesterday and saw some intermittent flooding and some street flooding. But from Jacksonville to Brunswick is where the action will be for really the next 60 hours. So, that's where we have the flood watches.

Look at these impressive rainfall totals. And, again, we haven't seen devastating flooding from this because it's been so dry in these areas. Six inches in Branford. Arlington, Florida, seeing six inches, and has been seeing over 4 1/2 inches. And down in Gainesville and Jacksonville, they saw in some cases record-breaking flooding.

Here's the forecast for the next 48 hours. Look at the red on the map there. As this thing slowly tracks off to the east, it will go right over Savannah. Pretty much right over Charleston. It will intensify a little bit off the coast line of North Carolina and also accelerate with its winds.

So, by the time it gets to, say, Charleston tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon, it will really start to pick up steam and then head out to sea fairly rapidly. But we're looking at flash flood watches that have been posted, all the way up to the outer banks of North Carolina.

Ashleigh, back right to you.

BANFIELD: Rob Marciano, watching it for us -- thanks very much for that.

Five minutes now past 5:00 in the morning. And we got something new for you this morning. Fifteen hours worth of a standoff just coming to an end now. A suspect is falling to his death off of a construction crane. He was a robbery suspect. And he climbed atop a crane on the campus of SMU, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Police say that he claimed to have a weapon. He refused to leave that cab, that's highlighted in the center of your screen. Local CNN affiliate said that that suspect eventually got sick because the crane doesn't have air conditioning. Just minutes ago, police say the suspect fell from that crane. And that is 150 feet from where that picture is to the ground.

SAMBOLIN: Radioactive tuna found in U.S. waters. Scientists say small amounts of radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been detected in 15 Pacific blue fins caught last August off the California coast, 6,000 miles from Japan. The blue fin tuna commonly migrate from Japan across the Pacific, and they were born about a year ago.

And though higher than normal, researchers say the amount cesium found in the fish is not dangerous for human consumption.

New York City police are turning to the Sanitation Department in an effort to corroborate the story of this man, Pedro Hernandez -- his confession in the death of a little boy Etan Patz, 33 years ago. Hernandez told them that he killed that 6-year-old boy and disposed of his body inside a garbage bag. Police have now asked the sanitation officials for trash pick up and dumping record dating back to 1979, when the little boy disappeared.

Hernandez is being held on murder charges and is being kept on suicide watch now at a New York hospital.

SAMBOLIN: Today's Texas primary could be the one for Mitt Romney, making the presumptive GOP nominee official. Texas has 155 delegates at stake. Romney's already won 1,066 delegates and needs 78 delegates to hit the magic number of 1,144 it's needed to ensure the Republican Party nomination for president.

BANFIELD: Trailblazers, war heroes, music legends -- highlighting the list of people who are about to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom and that's happening today. President Obama will present the nation's highest civilian honor to 13 people, including the first woman to serve as secretary of state. That's Madeleine Albright on your screen. Also, former Senator John Glenn, the third American in space and the first to on bit the earth. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison will also get the honor.

Bob Dylan, too, the man has been the poet of our times, just finished his 35th album, and will have as well as the medal, to his credit there today.

SAMBOLIN: What a list there.


SAMBOLIN: And a plot to assassinate American diplomats with snipers and car bombs. Find out who was reportedly behind it, after this quick break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 11 minutes past the hour.

U.S. investigators, they're trying to get to the bottom of an intricate plot to assassinate American diplomats. And according to "The Washington Post," the plot traced back to Iran and involves snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and car bomb. Among the targets of the alleged plot, U.S. embassy staff and family members in Azerbaijan. That's Iran's neighbor to the north.

And according to "The Post," the plot was hatched over the past few months.

Reza Sayah is live in Islamabad, Pakistan, with the very latest for us.

What can you tell us?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, we have to be careful with the allegations made in this article. Frankly, when I read this article in "The Washington Post," the first thing that comes to mind (INAUDIBLE).

This is an article that makes allegations about an assassination plot, about a terror plot that's linked to Iran, never clearly explains what those links are. It's so lacking in facts, so convoluted that any sensible reader would be saying, what did I just read? What does this mean to me as an American citizen?

Briefly, let's tell you about the article. It alleges that citizens of Azerbaijan was working with operatives inside Iran to smuggle weapons to Azerbaijan and go after U.S. and foreign diplomats. The article also claims that this plot is linked to other plots tied to Iran.

Here's what the article doesn't do. It doesn't give us an iota of clear evidence that ties the plot to the Iranian government or groups tied to the Iranian government. It doesn't name a single Iranian that's implicated in the plot. It doesn't tell us clearly who ordered the plot. And it even acknowledges the Obama administration hasn't even tied the plot to the government.

All of this is information in the article coming from, who, unnamed sources, who give us that all excuse that we can't divulge our name because the information is too sensitive, Zoraida. So, we go back to journalism school where a good student would ask, why can't I see the evidence? Why can't I have the named sources? If it's so serious, why doesn't the Justice Department come out --

SAMBOLIN: Those are all very good questions that hopefully we're going to get some answers to here in the near future. Reza Sayah, live for us in Pakistan -- I'm sorry -- you know what we're going to do, we're going to find him back on the phone this time so we can bring you the latest details.

BANFIELD: Re-establish that link because that is a fascinating story and Reza got a lot of information on that . I couldn't get any of that, I'm sorry, Reza. But excellent work out there. We'll work to re-establish that.

It's 13 minutes past 5:00. We have a lot of other big stories we're working on as well. Christine Romans is handling that for us this morning.

Hi there.


Memorial Day was literally awash for people in Florida and Georgia, thanks to tropical storm Beryl. The storm dropping as much 10 inches in some areas, causing flooding and widespread power outages. This is now a tropical depression, expected to bring more rain to parts of Georgia today folks.

Two small planes crash into each other in midair, killing one of the pilots and the passenger. It happened in Fauquier, Virginia. This is about 50 miles from Washington, D.C., Fauquier County. Officials, they don't know what caused this crash, but they say one of the planes burst into flames. The other pilot was taken to the hospital.

Two accused murder suspects loose this morning after they used a hacksaw to escape an Arkansas jail on Monday. Police say Cortez Cooper and Quincy Stewart sliced through metal bars covering up a cell window. Then they squeezed through and landed on two mattresses they pushed through the window. Authorities still don't know how the two managed to hop the 10 foot barb wire fence.

After a long holiday weekend, jurors in the John Edwards trial return to work this morning. It is their seventh day of deliberation. The former presidential candidate is charged with illegally using campaign contributions to cover up his affair with mistress, Rielle Hunter. Edwards denies any wrongdoing.

And Fidel Castro's niece is traveling to New York today. She's scheduled to speak about international rights for gays and lesbians. Mariela Castro Espin is the daughter of the current Cuban president, Raoul Castro. That's Fidel Castro's brother.

She's a prominent activist for gay and lesbian rights in her country. But her U.S. visit has sparked outrage amongst many Cuban- Americans -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

It is 15 minutes past the hour here. Time for your "Early Reads."

A Florida teen gets in trouble for standing up to bullies. But the school says she went to far. "The Daily Commercial" has this incredible story. Eighteen-year-old Stormy Rich (ph) says she reported a group of girls bullying a special needs student on the bus. She says school officials never took action so she told the girls, quote, "If they didn't stop and the school didn't do anything, I would have to handle it."

The school said those remarks displayed bullying so it banned Rich from the bus.

BANFIELD: I feel like I'm missing something.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, logic.

BANFIELD: That's bullying?

SAMBOLIN: You're missing logic.

BANFIELD: Fighting bullying is bullying? All right. Well, maybe I am missing something.

But here's something you don't want to miss. Be very careful of what you post on Facebook. I know we say that all the time. But in Australia, a 17-year-old girl found out the hard way.

She posted pictures of a big, fat wad of cash. All right. "The Daily Telegraph" says she was helping her grandmother count the money. It was savings apparently. But some bad guys saw the pictures, figured out where she lived.

SAMBOLIN: You kind of knew how this was going to go.

BANFIELD: I know. Busted in and stole it all. Apparently they had knives, a club. These two were robbed. Nobody was hurt in the end, but the good news is police have arrested two people in connection with this.

SAMBOLIN: Hopefully, recovered the money as well.

BANFIELD: Don't have the answer to that one, but you would hope that was something they could resolve.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Zoos across the country are being forced to choose which endangered species to save and which to actually let die out. They're doing their very best to save them. But they have very limited resources.

"The New York Times" says, quote, "Some days, the burden feels less like Noah building an arc and more like Schindler making a list." For example, both of these rhinos are critically endangered. The zoos have chosen to say the eastern black rhino, they're hoping outside conservation groups can help the southern black rhino. Otherwise, they will become extinct.

BANFIELD: For an expanded look at all of our top stories, you can head to our blog, easily found at

SAMBOLIN: So, we've seen the signs. Could the housing market finally turn the corner? We have the latest numbers today. Christine Romans with that and more coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

More now on our top story. U.S. investigators are trying to get to the bottom of a plot to assassinate American diplomats.

According to "The Washington Post," U.S. embassy staff and family members are the targets of a plot and Iran is behind it.

Reza Sayah rejoins us now on the phone from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Can you start at the very top again with what is going on here? We had some problems with communication earlier.

SAYAH (via telephone): Yes, Zoraida. We've been told there are so many allegations, so many times that alarms have been raised about Iraq that ultimately, it didn't match reality. I think we need to ask tough questions when we see articles like this.

An article in "The Washington Post" that made some scary allegations, but it falls short on providing clear evidence. It's very lacking of facts and verified information, so convoluted that I any sensible reader in the end would ask, what did I just read and what does this mean to me as a U.S. citizen?

Briefly the article alleges that a man from Azerbaijan was working with -- inside Azerbaijan and go after U.S. and foreign diplomats. It also alleges that this alleged plot is linked to other plots tied to Iran.

Here's what the article doesn't do, it doesn't show us an iota of clear evidence linking this plot to the Iranian government, any groups tied to the Iranian government. It doesn't name a single Iranian that's been implicated. It doesn't say who ordered this plot.

And it even acknowledges that the Obama administration itself hasn't even tied the plot to the Iranian government. All this information in this article coming from unnamed sources, to use that old excuse that we can't give you our names because this information is too sensitive.

So, another in a long line of scary articles about Iran that unfortunately is very short on evidence and verified information.

SAMBOLIN: How did the U.S. find out this information?

SAYAH: Well, this, according to a foreign spy agency, was a plot that was divulged to them. And again, because of the lack of information, the unnamed sources, they're not going to tell us how they found out. All they do is they name a foreign spy agency that found out about this plot, that informed the U.S. embassy. There was an alleged target.

The Iranian government, as it often does, it denies the allegation and that's where we stand at this point.

SAMBOLIN: So, Reza, if this proves to be true, how is this going to affect the relationship between the U.S. and Iran with these ongoing negotiations over its nuclear program?

SAYAH: I don't think it's going to impact U.S./Iran relations much. I think the fact that the Obama administration hasn't hyped this up is an indication of that. For Washington, the issue when it comes to Iran is the controversial nuclear program that's going to be continuing to be the main issue. But there are some in the administration, some in Washington who are hawkish about Iran, conservative Republicans, some in the Israeli governments who want to portray Iran as a threat to the west. And they're going to like seeing reports like this in "The Washington Post," no matter how much it is lacking of evidence and verified information.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Reza Sayah live for us in Pakistan, thank you so much for being so diligent in communicating with us via telephone. We appreciate that.

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

Is the housing market finally on the mend? Very telling housing numbers will be out in a couple of hours.

SAMBOLIN: We are looking forward to that.

Christine Romans is here with a little bit of a preview.

SAMBOLIN: Futures is up more than 100 points, guys. And one of the reasons is because we're going to get a consumer confidence number today and something called the Case-Shiller housing index. And many people are expecting that's going to show more of a recovery in the housing market.

Yes, the housing market has been beaten down so badly. I mean, many of you are saying don't say housing is getting better. My house is not up in value. You might be right, depending on where you live.

But we're seeing the first spring selling season since the crash starting to perk up a little bit. So, that's one of the reasons why the stock market is doing better. Stocks are higher in Europe over positive economic news out of Japan and also some hopes that China is going to embark on a stimulus. To get some money flowing in its economy, too, to keep it going

But May has been a terrible month for your 401(k). And, I mean, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but since May 1st, it's been a down market. Only four days higher for stocks in the whole month of May. That hasn't happened for a month since 1903 that you've only had four higher days. I know.

So, some are saying that the next few days as you close out the month you could see stocks doing better. The Dow is down 6 percent so far this year. It's been a tough start to the year. It feels a lot like last year quite frankly. We had this sell in may go away feeling. If you were right last year and you are right if you did that this year, too. So maybe we're due for a little bit of a gain --

BANFIELD: Is the year OK?

ROMANS: Yes, the year is down 6 percent.

BANFIELD: The year is down 6 percent?

ROMANS: Yes, we're down 6 percent on the year for the Dow.

BANFIELD: We sat here just a couple of months ago saying we've never had a better start to the year.

ROMANS: Yes. It was a very good start to the year, you're right. It fizzled out. We'll keep watching.

I will tell you, though, that oil prices are down below $90 a barrel. Gas prices continue to decline. All those really scary head lines about $5 Memorial Day gas didn't turn out to be true. Peak hit early. It's probably as good as it gets for gas prices.

BANFIELD: We check every day.

SAMBOLIN: We'll take what we can take of good news, Christine. Thank you so much.

BANFIELD: Twenty-six minutes now past 5:00.

Senator John McCain knows a thing or two about how to handle a heckler. See how he took care of one person with a single word. You'll hear it, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: He says he wants guys and lesbians locked up behind an electric fence until they die. CNNs cameras confront a North Carolina pastor about his sermon of hate.

BANFIELD: Plus, danger reins from the sky. Debris thought to be from a passenger jet falls on to parked cars in front of stunned witnesses.

SAMBOLIN: And Steve Jobs back in the day with Atari. A handwritten note offers a rare glimpse of the Apple master really early in his career.

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

BANFIELD: Hi, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Thirty-one minutes now past the hour. Let's get you started on the top news of the day.

The North Carolina pastor calling for all gays and lesbians to be locked up behind an electric fence was back in pulpit this weekend, and according to one local newspaper, he was greeted by a standing ovation.

Outside the Providence Road Baptist Church, a different kind of standing ovation. There it is on your screen. Hundreds of people from across North Carolina and the country gathering to protest Pastor Charles Worley's message.

So far, the pastor has refused to speak to reporters. CNN's Gary Tuchman went to North Carolina to ask him if he still stands behind that sermon.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ever since Pastor Charles Worley made his infamous speech, and it went viral on the internet, we wanted to get a chance to talk with him to see if he was sorry for what he said, sorry for the tone, or if he strongly defended it, but he's dodged the press. So, we made an effort to find him, and we did.

(voice-over): We haven't seen nor heard from Pastor Charles Worley since his anti-gay sermon went viral, until now.

Pastor, would you like to take back anything you said? Pastor, I want to give you a chance to take anything back if you care to.

Pastor Worley had plenty of opportunity to answer either question. He chose not to. Instead, he was on his way to his church for a Sunday service. On the same day, that hundreds of people from North Carolina and other parts of the country protested the pastor's now infamous sermon.

REV. CHARLES WORLEY, PASTOR, PROVIDENCE ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH: Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100-mile long, put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt that he was preaching bigotry. My daughter is (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a preacher. This is a bigot.

TUCHMAN: The protesters demonstrated several miles away from the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To that which against nature is against very nature.

TUCHMAN: Where they encounter the small but loud opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Won't you take me a practice (INAUDIBLE) lesbian and be save by the grace of God. We must appear free because we've broken God's laws.

TUCHMAN: Pastor Worley supporters carried signs that many here felt were nasty and agonistic (ph) as well as not necessarily accurate.

Let me ask you, where does it talk about aids in Romans 1:27.


TUCHMAN: Why do you have that here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's just a phrase that we put on there.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): There's been all kinds of opportunity for confrontation here. People on that side of the issue are marching on the sidewalk. People on the other side of the issue are yelling back at them. But so far, there's been no problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad I'm a proud member of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina. My pastor is Brother Charles Worley.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): For the most part, Worley supporters were ignored, and instead, the focus was on the pastor's anti-gay sermon. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's absolutely anti-Christian which is why I wrote this message. Would Jesus really do this, you know?

TUCHMAN: And many protesters brought their children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to teach my kids to love everyone. I don't want them to see Black or White, gay or straight. I want them to show up and love everybody.

TUCHMAN: Nobody was arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you the reason that heterosexuals go to heaven is because they recanted their sins. All right, sir.


TUCHMAN: But this pro-Worley supporter got a citation for using a bull horn which had been banned. Meanwhile, at the church a few miles away, we asked one of the church board members if Worley would talk to us there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not issuing any comments or statements.

TUCHMAN: Can I talk to the pastor?


TUCHMAN: There would be no talking to Charles Worley, at least, on this day.

Pastor, any comments at all?

The pastor is not either not ready or not interested to publicly defend his sermon, but as far as defending him, his family and supporters seem ready to step up. Five men walked out the door of his house when we asked the pastor our questions. Notably, one of the men appeared to have a gun in his waistband.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Two church services were held this past Sunday here in Worley's church. Reporters were not allowed inside, but one local reporter who wasn't recognized, a newspaper reporter with the "Hickory Daily" record did go inside. He tells us that Worley got a standing ovation, but he says he appreciates the support.

And he also added, I've been preaching for 53 years and, quote, "do you think I'm going to bail out on this now?"

This is Gary Tuchman for EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks to Gary for that.

A family stranded on a steep and snowy side of a mountain for hours after their small plane crash landed in Idaho. It took rescue crews hours to reach a California firefighter and his wife and daughter after their Cessna went down. Choppers eventually found them but couldn't land on the six-foot high snow drift and 60 degree slopes. It was their daughter who called 911 for help.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Owyhee County 911, what is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I'm in an airplane, and I crashed, and I'm in the mountains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you at, hon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the 29 miles east west of Mountain Home, Idaho. I need you to send a search party, please.


SAMBOLIN: That young lady was very composed. They spent the entire night in freezing, white out conditions before choppers were eventually able to pull them up. They are all recovering together in the hospital.

BANFIELD: Debris apparently from an Air Canada jet falling from the sky in Toronto, and one of the planes engines failed just after takeoff. Small pieces as the Boeing 777 struck cars on the ground, and the witnesses were stunned.


JONATHAN BERGEN, CAR DAMAGED BY AIRPLANE DEBRIS: There's a lot of damage, especially compared to other people. I think there was only one car glass smashed through, but it was really, really strange. Not something I expected to happen today, have airplane debris fall through my windshield.


BANFIELD: Strange, indeed. Luckily, no one injured in all of this. The Air Canada jet was headed for Tokyo, but it had to make an emergency landing back at Toronto Pearson Airport. The airline says it is now investigating what happened.

SAMBOLIN: War hero. Senator John McCain was not having it on Memorial Day. He fired back at a heckler during a speech alongside Mitt Romney in San Diego yesterday. Take a look.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: My relatives of --





SAMBOLIN: Few words there, huh? McCain was speaking to an audience of about 5,000 veterans. Mitt Romney seemed to get a little chuckle out of that as well.

BANFIELD: A neon lamp that was turned on during the Great Depression was found behind a wall at a California eatery and, guess what, it was still burning bright. The "L.A Times" says the light is believed to have been installed back in 1935 and was discovered during a renovation in a women's bathroom at Clifton's cafeteria. The building owner, Andrew Meieran, is thrilled by the discovery.


ANDREW MEIERAN, BUILDING OWNER: And the fact that one single bulb continued to shine I thought was absolutely staggering. And it's just a remarkable thing to find. And I think definitely a fitting legacy for Clifton's keeping the lights on.


BANFIELD: Remarkable, indeed, but according to the experts, the light has been burning for all of these years because it was indoors, and it was away from any human touch which gave it the staying power.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we learned something. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour here. What if your Facebook photos could tag themselves? I don't know if I like that. More on facial recognition technology and Facebook's next big buy coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Top of the morning to you, Washington, D.C. Thanks for being with us this morning. It is 75 degrees right now for you. A little later, it's going to be pretty hot, 91 degrees and balmy because you have some thunderstorms headed your way.

It is a big day for Mitt Romney. The presumptive republican candidate can finally seal the deal in today's Texas's primary, putting him over the top, delegate wise, and assuring his party's nomination. Romney won't be in Texas, though. He will be fundraising in Las Vegas with the former conservative rival, Newt Gingrich, and a controversial supporter, Donald Trump.

Romney is not backing away from Trump's continued questioning of President Obama's birth place. So, let's talk about that with CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser. He is live in Washington for us. Is Trump going to hurt him, do you think?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know, Trump brings a few pluses, but yes, he brings a lot of minuses. You never want to overshadow the top guy. That's kind of what's happening here with Donald Trump. No surprise, Donald Trump loves the limelight. He loves controversy, and that may not always be a good thing for Mitt Romney when he's getting Trump's support.

Pictures right there, that was back in February. Remember last year, Trump thought about running for the White House on the Republican side, openly did not, but he endorsed Romney back in February in Las Vegas. They're both going to be there again today, later today, for that fundraiser for Mitt Romney.

And you know, Zoraida, we've been talking about this for a couple of days. Donald Trump, you remember last year, he brought up the birther issue question whether the president was born in the United States, but it has continued on into this year with some tweets and some comments as well.

And Mitt Romney has been asked about this and his campaign has been asked about this. Romney reacting last night on the campaign plane flight out to Colorado. Take a listen to what he said.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I don't agree with all the people that support me. I guess, they don't agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.


STEINHAUSER: For himself, Romney says, of course, I believe that President Obama was born in the United States. He says it should not be part of the campaign. But the Obama campaign is saying, wait a minute, John McCain four years ago pushed back, why are you not pushing back? Now, Zoraida, Mitt Romney is now want to be talking about the birther issue and that's what we are talking about right now. It is a distraction. No doubt about it.

SAMBOLIN: You know, my mom has an expression. She says tell me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are. So, you just never know how people feel about things like that. All right. So, let's talk about clinching the GOP nomination tonight. I was trying to find the tape when you predicted when this would happen. I think you said June, maybe not. Maybe you meant today.


SAMBOLIN: Right before June.

STEINHAUSER: Did I say May 29th? Maybe that was --

SAMBOLIN: I think you did.

STEINHAUSER: I can't remember anymore. Exactly. The Texas primary today. A lot of delegates at stake, over 150. Mitt Romney right now at 1,066 according to the CNN estimate. He needs 1,144. Remember that magic number we talked about it so much. He needs 78 delegates.

He's expected to pick those up tonight, and that would mean he would officially clinch the Republican nomination. What does it mean? Pretty much nothing right now. Remember how much we talked about this? Listen, a mere formality now. He has been the presumptive favorite since April 10th when Rick Santorum dropped his bid.

Santorum, at the time, was his main rival. So, it's just something for us to mention, but basically, he's been the nominee nominee for a while. We are in a general election campaign now, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Paul Steinhauser live for us in Washington. Thank you.

BANFIELD: I feel like we've been in that general election campaign for a while. I don't know maybe it's just me. Forty-five minutes now past 5:00. Let's get you up to date on the rest of the top stories. Christine Romans busy with that -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, and thank you, Ashleigh.


ROMANS (voice-over): People along the Florida and Georgia Coast this morning cleaning up and drying out after tropical storm Beryl wrecked their Memorial Day. Up to 10 inches of rain falling across the region. The storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression but still bringing the rain as it heads slowly towards the Carolinas.

Thirteen children have been killed in a fire at a shopping mall. Fire also killed four teacher and two people who were trying to rescue these victims. Most of them died at the mall's daycare center. Witnesses say the fire didn't set off any loud alarms or sprinklers. Officials are now investigating there.

A wild fire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has now burned more than 22,000 acres since last week, destroyed 97 structures including 34 homes. Despite these recent rains, the fire is still going strong because of dry conditions in the Upper Peninsula. High temperatures, winds, and a lack of roads up there. Thankfully, the fire is now about halfway contained.

After a string of worker suicides and reports of sweatshop conditions, Apple supplier, FoxConn, is doubling the pay of workers in mainland China. Chinese language newspaper, (INAUDIBLE) reporting that the changes will take place at the end of next year. The people who make your iPads and iPhones will now make at the end of next year an estimated $630 per month up from $350.

Soon your Facebook photos may tag themselves on your cell phone. A new reports says Facebook could be on the verge of buying, a facial recognition technology company valued at 80 to $100 million. Analysts say the move could help Facebook in the mobile market as more people move off desktops -- Ashleigh and Zoraida.


BANFIELD: That worries me because auto correct makes enough mistakes to embarrass me. Imagine what that recognition technology will tag your picture as.

ROMANS: Who knows what our phone is going to be able to do in the next three or four years, right?

SAMBOLIN: I'm not a fan of that technology. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: It's 47 minutes now past 5:00, and you would have to really have a passion for the King of Rock and Roll to own the latest piece of Elvis' memorabilia. And you would have to have a lot, a lot of money. Tell you all about that in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: And if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop. Take us with you, maybe on your mobile phone, just go to


BANFIELD: Welcome back. It is 51 minutes past the hour. Time to take a look at what's trending on the interweb.

All right. The ultimate piece of Elvis memorabilia. The crypt of the king. I am not kidding. It's really for sale. You can lay your head for all eternity in the same place the King of Rock and Roll once did. But, you better have the pockets, because bidding starts at 100 G's. Forest Hill Cemetery in Tennessee is auctioning off the site where Elvis Presley was entombed while awaiting burial at Graceland, so he isn't there.

Don't think for a minute that they're going to move him out and move you in. He was moved out long ago.

SAMBOLIN: I hope they're not going to move you in.


BANFIELD: Well, it is your choice, right? If you want it. If you're a long-term planner or short-term planner. I don't know. By the way, the bidder doesn't just get the crypt, you get the small chapel as well. All you need, are you ready, is money, honey. Thank you very much.

SAMBOLIN: Every time I see Elvis Presley, I think of Rob Blagojevich. He's a huge fan.


BANFIELD: Do you think he's listening in the jail house rock?

SAMBOLIN: No, I don't.


SAMBOLIN: Madonna here, the material girl was rehearsing for her upcoming show in Israel when she was caught on tape merging her hit "Express Yourself "with Lady Gaga's "born This Way.

BANFIELD: I knew it. It's the same song.





SAMBOLIN: Oh, no. So, listen to this. Many critics on line have accused Gaga of totally ripping off Madonna, not only with this song, but with her entire act. It is not clear whether the "Born This Way" mash-up will make it into the set list for the show, however.

BANFIELD: I would buy the ticket to that concert just to see that. I got to be honest. Every time that song comes on and I'm in the car I sing "Express Yourself" instead of "Born This Way."

SAMBOLIN: Oh, really?

BANFIELD: Yes, every time I hear Lady Gaga's song, I just -- I get a giggle out of it, because they are so identical.

SAMBOLIN: Well, apparently, a lot of people feel that way.

BANFIELD: But I love that she's doing it now.


BANFIELD: Gaga! All right. So, before the iPad, the iPhone, the iMac, there was Atari. Remember the days?


BANFIELD: One of a kind. Steve Jobs memorabilia is coming up for auction. This handwritten note, take a close look, it's from the late Apple co-founder, Dave, when he was working for Atari. And if you read it carefully and you can understand it, it's actually suggesting ways to improve the company's world cup soccer arcade game.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, wow.

BANFIELD: He designed the paddles for the game in the early days of Atari. He began working at that company when he was just 19 years old after he first dropped out of college. You know, it's tricky to make it out. Somebody (ph) is expecting, if you can read it or not, it's still going to be really expensive. They're expecting it to sell for somewhere around $15,000.

SAMBOLIN: I suspect it will go beyond that. That's pretty cool. BANFIELD: I expected Facebook to do better.



BANFIELD: Who am i?

SAMBOLIN: It says auctions. You know, they start and then they kind of blow out. You think, gosh, I can't believe that went for that much money.

BANFIELD: Well, there was "The Scream," and that's --


BANFIELD: So, Atari --

SAMBOLIN: Little different. Little different here.

All right. Fifty-four minutes past the hour. We have more evidence today that radiation from Japan's Fukushima disaster can be traced all the way to the waters of the shores of the United States. Details straight ahead.

BANFIELD: And also, we've got some breaking news out of Italy. Several people dead killed in an earthquake. We're pulling information together as we speak. So, as soon as we have something for you, we will get you the latest right after this quick break.