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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
First Accuser to Testify; Hail Pounds Texas; Pitcher Perfect!; Where Syria Gets Its Weapons; Ground Zero Rising Again
Aired June 14, 2012 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Disturbing tales of abuse, of even threats in the Jerry Sandusky trial. And today, we'll hear from the accuser who first blew the lid off this case.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: Plus, this devastating hail pounds Texas. And we're not just talking about a little bit of ice here. We're talking about hail the size of baseballs.
BANFIELD: Speaking of baseballs, baseball history in San Francisco. Giants' pitcher Matt Cain thrilling the fans, pitching a rare perfect game. Boy, I'll bet he's a happy one waking up this morning.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing you the news from A to Z.
It is 5:00 a.m. in the East here. So, let's get started.
We can expect more graphic testimony when the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial resumes a couple of hours from now. We have live pictures of the courthouse right now. Pretty quite, but there'll be a lot presence there shortly.
Remaining accusers, three of them expected to tell the jury what the former Penn State football coach allegedly did to them when they were children. In court yesterday, three other men testified in disturbing detail about the alleged molestation, and in one case, threats from Sandusky.
The trial is moving at a very brisk pace. The prosecution is expected to wrap its case by tomorrow.
CNN's Susan Candiotti is covering the proceedings. She is live on the phone from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Susan, who we're expecting to hear today in court?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Good morning, Zoraida.
We expect to hear testimony from the three remaining alleged victims in this case, along with others, starting today and tomorrow.
Now, among the alleged accusers we believe we'll start hearing from includes someone who made allegations going back to 1998, that's the oldest case that we are aware of. But in that case, university police looked into the case but never filed charges. It involved a young boy at the time who accused Jerry Sandusky of molesting him in a shower.
He went to his mother, the university police looked into it, eavesdropped on Jerry Sandusky and according to the grand jury at that time, Sandusky was heard to say that he was sorry, that he asked for forgiveness and he would never go in the shower again, while never acknowledging that he had molested the boy.
So what really stood out about yesterday's testimony, Zoraida, was one victim, victim number five who broke down on the stand as he was talking about Jerry Sandusky allegedly exposing himself to him in the sauna and chasing this youngster around the shower where he allegedly sexually assaulted the young boy. His civil attorney spoke about the testimony yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM KLINE, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED VICTIM 5: He was a young man who was asked to step forward by the government and cooperated, and today tearfully told you how a grown man lured him into a shower, after taking him into a sauna, disrobing, and then touching this young boy and scarring this young boy forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: And according to the civil attorney, this young man is still undergoing counseling but is working and is trying to make a life for himself -- Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: There are so many graphic details, allegations of abuse in showers, basements, bedrooms, locker rooms, but it's moving quickly at a brisk pace. When can we expect them to wrap it up?
CANDIOTTI: Well, you know, it is moving very, very quickly, so quickly, in fact, that the judge wound up ending the testimony yesterday, saying that between today and tomorrow, he expects prosecutors could wrap up their case so very likely we'll begin hearing the defense case starting on Monday.
And, of course, that question everyone still wants to know, will we hear from Jerry Sandusky himself? We certainly have heard from him, in a way, it was during testimony yesterday, they played an interview with him between Jerry Sandusky and Bob Costas that jurors really were forward in their seats to hear as well, in which he denied that he was -- he had sexually abused any children but said he was attracted to young boys. It was chilling to hear that for jurors.
SAMBOLIN: And, Susan, his lawyer, Sandusky's lawyer has hinted that perhaps he will put him on the stand?
CANDIOTTI: It's unclear whether that will happen, by saying the jurors would hear from him as he said in his opening statements perhaps he was only talking about the interviews they're playing for the jurors. Of course, ultimately that decision is up to Jerry Sandusky but a lot of experts can't imagine him taking the stand but we've had a lot of surprises in this case so you never know.
SAMBOLIN: You never know. Susan Candiotti live in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, for us -- thank you.
BANFIELD: Five minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. And there may be a biohazard risk at a government lab and not just any lab either. "USA Today" is reporting that a bio safety lab at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta has repeatedly had trouble with air flow systems designed to prevent the release of infectious agents. The bio safety expert says the problems appear to be major violations of lab operating standards.
The CDC has issued a statement saying, quote, "The work in CDC's high containment laboratory is done in an environment with highly skilled staff, technical equipment and safety systems that unfortunately at times experience challenges." The statement goes on to say, "Fortunately this unique facility has multiple systems in place that provide appropriate redundancy so when there's an incident, the public's as well as the worker safety is not compromised."
SAMBOLIN: Five minutes past the hour. Military officials investigating the cause of an Air Force plane crash in Florida at a base in Florida. A CV-22 Osprey went down last night during a routine training mission at Hurlburt Field. Five crew members suffered injuries and have to be hospitalized. The extent of their injuries is not known.
BANFIELD: Specialized flight suit might be responsible for Air Force pilots feeling lightheaded while flying F-22 fighter jets. Investigators are focusing on a part of a suit that's called the combat edge. It's a vest that expands and contracts on a pilot's torso in an effort to sort of tamp down the effects of the severe G- force. Investigators say they believe those vests actually might be restricting the pilot's breathing more severely than intended. They're expected to present a report on the findings to the secretary of defense within the next few days.
And now to the epic firefight unfolding in Colorado, the Hyde Park wildfire swelling now to about 47,000 acres.
Take a look at those pictures. More than 1,000 fire personnel are working nonstop in 24-hour shifts to slow it down. More than 1,000 new pre-evacuation alerts had just been issued to people living on the west side of the fire. That is a warning to get them ready to leave quickly.
BANFIELD: Hear that? That's the sound of hail, folks. Not your average hail either. People in Dallas had to seriously run for cover. The city was pelted by hail, three intense thunderstorms hitting yesterday, the hail ranging from golf ball size to baseball size and even larger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went for at least 20 minutes. It just pummeled. It was unbelievable, and the rain, there was so much rain. It was like being in a disaster movie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like the house was exploding. Just pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, over and over and over again. You can look at the roof and see a thousand explosions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: You wouldn't want to be an insurance adjuster today, because roofs and car windows are the biggest casualties. Luckily, no one was injured in this terrible hail storm.
SAMBOLIN: That is fierce.
All right. Lance Armstrong, legendary champ or a cheater. Armstrong is getting his side of the story after the U.S. anti-doping agency formally charged him with doping.
On his Web site, Armstrong says, quote, "These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. Although USADA alleges a wide ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only it has chosen to charge. I have never doped, and unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one."
BANFIELD: OK. Baseball (INAUDIBLE) good to him. History made by the Bay last night. Last night, Francisco Giant pitcher Matt Cain tossing a rare perfect game. It's only the 22nd time that's ever happened in baseball history and first time for a member of the Giants. Here now the final out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPORTS ANNOUNCER: On the ground, arias from deep third, got him! And that's a perfect game!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Cain struck out a career high 14 Houston Astros in the Giants 10-0 victory. Safe to say he has pretty proud family members today.
SAMBOLIN: Oh, towns, communities, all sorts of people.
A deadly virus spreads at a hospital lab. Coming up, what the virus is and what one hospital worker may have done to potentially infect dozens of people.
BANFIELD: This just in, some good news for you this morning -- gas prices fall down to $3.53 per gallon of unleaded gas, a drop of 7/10 cents overnight in the average across the country. It's actually down 58.2 cents. How about that?
About 14 percent from the record high of $4.11 that was set in July 17th, 2008. Do you even remember that?
SAMBOLIN: It's always good news for you to say that at this hour.
BANFIELD: We had a weird one. We had one little blip in several weeks.
SAMBOLIN: Very little. Yes, it's back down again. We're happy about that.
Thirteen minutes past the hour here. We're getting an early read on local news that is making national headlines.
The first of three teen girls accused of running a prostitution ring appearing in court in Ottawa, Canada. The 15-year-old is charged with human trafficking, abduction and sexual assault for allegedly forcing girls into sex acts with adults. She was arrested along with another 15-year-old. A 17-year-old alleged accomplice is still on the run.
Six new victims in the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. Officials saying that this was likely caused -- are you ready for this -- by an infected worker who reused syringes on patients. Yes, you heard right.
"The Union Leader" newspaper is reporting the story, saying that 20 people have now been infected in this incident. The hospital is urging anybody who was a patient at the Exeter cardiac lab since October 2010 needs to go and get tested.
All right. The city of San Francisco plans to solve its panhandling problem with puppies. The city has launched a new program to get beggars off the streets. They're offering them $75 a week to foster puppies until they're ready for adoption. "The San Francisco Chronicle" says animal shelters are overflowing and many of the duds need to be socialized before they can be adopted.
All foster program applicants will be screened and they will be trained.
BANFIELD: Just where exactly are these puppies supposed to be house broken? That would be a tough one. I'm not so sure. I mean, I like the idea. I think it's got a nice approach but -- I mean, come on. It's not very safe out on the streets.
SAMBOLIN: I don't know. They'll figure it out, I think it's a great idea.
All right. For an expanded look, head to our blog CNN.com/EarlyStart.
Fifty minutes past the hour here.
Did you feel it? If you were in California an earthquake shook southern California.
Rob Marciano, live in the weather center -- wasn't that big though, right?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, 4.0. But I'll tell you what? I was out there for a shoot earlier this week and earthquakes are still on the top of everyone's mind. That's part of the daily conversation, when is the big one coming.
Well, thankfully, this wasn't a big one, 4.0, but it was pretty close, about 28 miles southeast of L.A. and about eight miles to the northeast of Anaheim and shallow as well, about six miles deep. So, enough for folks to feel certainly but not enough to do any sort of damage.
What is doing damage are the fires out west. The Hyde Park fire near Ft. Collins, 10 percent containment now. That's an improvement over the past couple of days, but $3 million in damage and we've got 73 square miles of it burned. This is one of the largest in history in Colorado.
No extreme fire danger today but we're going to see a threat for thunderstorms today and tomorrow in the firestorm. Some of these storms could get severe. Cool front that pushed across the East Coast yesterday. Just stuff today, 76 degrees, you should see blue sky at some point today in New York, 80 degrees in D.C., 87, a little bit warmer in Atlanta. But some afternoon thunderstorms possible in San Francisco, cooler, and a little bit foggy out there.
Speaking of San Fran, U.S. Open gets under way today. The Olympic Club there, 62 degrees, vying for the championship, second major of the gulf season.
Guys, back to you.
SAMBOLIN: Very cool, good weather to boot. Thank you, Rob. Nice to have you back.
BANFIELD: Seventeen minutes now past 5:00 and time to get you up to date on the top stories of the day.
Christine Romans is working on that for us.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, ladies.
We're entering day four of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial in Pennsylvania. Three more of Sandusky's alleged victims are expected to take the stand today. Five have already testified. The former Penn State football coach is facing 52 criminal counts. The prosecution's case could wrap up tomorrow.
Today, police in Los Angeles are getting ready to cue up eight hours worth of old cassette tapes that could reveal information about murders committed by the Manson family.
On Wednesday, at Texas judge denied a motion from former Manson follower and convicted murder Charles "Tex" Watson to stop police from taking position of his 43-year-od tapes. They feature Watson speaking with his late attorney Bill Boyd. In a new letter to CNN Watson says "Investigators, they won't find out much from the tapes." He claims there are no unsolved murders committed by the Manson family.
Happening British Prime Minister David Cameron set to testify in the government inquiry into media ethics. It's an inquiry that Cameron himself set up in response to phone hacking at the defunct "News of the World" tabloid. The prime minister's been under fire for hiring former "News of the World" editor.
Cameron expected to face a full day of questioning, focusing on his relationship with Rupert Murdoch's empire.
It started with big sodas. And now, it looks like milkshakes and movie sized popcorn may also find a spot on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's hit list. The board of health is showing support for the proposed ban on sugary drinks. These are drinks larger than 16 ounces. And now the board, guys, is piling on, with members suggesting that milkshakes, big buckets of popcorn and milk-filled coffee drinks could also be part of a potential city-wide ban.
BANFIELD: Really? Wow. That's awful.
ROMANS: Are you drinking a big, that's why I'm more of the 16 ounces.
SAMBOLIN: That's just regular coffee, right?
BANFIELD: Definitely not. It's always got some kind of dessert-y thing in it. It doesn't say the ounces.
ROMANS: It looks like 16 ounces. I think you're safe.
BANFIELD: Sixteen! There you go. So it's also one of those things I don't know, since you get it in a coffee or donut store, it's probably exempt?
ROMANS: They have things for you not good in a donut store.
SAMBOLIN: Pretty soon, you're not going to be able to buy the donuts, either. Ridiculous.
BANFIELD: What do they call them, donut holes?
SAMBOLINK: All right. Thank you, Christine.
Nineteen minutes past the hour.
The economy is shaking, the future uncertain, so where should you be putting your money right now?
(BEGIN VFIDEO CLIP)
JIM ROGERS, GLOBAL INVESTOR: Taking the gold out of my pocket. I hope I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: He's taking the gold out?
Christine Romans is minding your business. She sits down with global investor Jim Rogers. That's coming up next. Free advice, folks.
BANFIELD: Twenty-three minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast.
We're minding your business this morning. Christine Romans here to talk about a big interview with global investor Jim Rogers.
We had a tidbit yesterday and we get the full monty today.
ROMANS: You know, when I asked him with so much uncertainty in the markets, Jim Rogers, where is the best place to invest your money right now?
ROGERS: My name is Jim Rogers. I'm unemployed. I don't have a job. I did write a book recently called "A Gift to My Children." I hope I get enough royalties so I can invest them.
You should be very worried about 2013. 2014, you should be very, very worried.
The stock market's done nothing for 12, 13 years now. We have a lost decade in America and we'll have another lost decade. Next year is going to be bad in the American economy. Be very careful.
ROMANS: So if you're so worried, what do you buy? What are you buying? Where do you put your money?
ROGERS: My money is in short stocks, shortings when you think something will go down and I own currencies and I own commodities.
ROMANS: They say everyone should have a little bit of gold in their portfolio.
ROGERS: I have a little bit of gold in my pocket, I hope I do.
ROMANS: Let me see. He sure does. I won't keep it but --
ROGERS: I know you won't keep it. I got witnesses.
ROMANS: China, the answer here? China is slowing as well.
ROGERS: China's been trying to slow its economy for three years, rightly so, they got overheated, they had a property bubble. They need to stop inflation. They need to slow down.
China cannot save us, Christine. They've done a great job. The American and European economies together are 10 times as big as China.
ROGERS: Ten times. So, even if China booms, if the rest of us have problems, China cannot save us.
ROMANS: A lot of people think we're looking at a chapter written in a history book, where the 19th century belonged to the UK., to England, with 20th century belong to the United States, and 21st century belongs to China and the big rising Asian nations. Do you think so?
ROGERS: I have sold my house in New York and moved to Asia and my girls speak Mandarin, speak perfect Mandarin. What more can I tell you? They're -- I'm preparing them for the 21st century by knowing Asia and by speaking perfect Mandarin.
ROMANS: Of course he agrees not everybody can move to China. Not everybody can move to Asia.
You can see my interview and more on my show "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. He's going to tell you a lot more about how you can make money again in the American economy.
SAMBOLIN: I love those little nuggets of wisdom. Thank you, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
SAMBOLIN: It is 26 minutes past the hour.
Her fight to survive was caught on camera. Florida woman doused with gasoline and then set on fire. She is talking about her ordeal. You're going to hear from her coming up.
BANFIELD: Also, if you're leaving the house right now, no worries. You can take us with you. You can watch us any time on your desktop, even your mobile phones. Just go to CNN.com/TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: A war of words between the United States and Russia. At issue, who's arming who in Syria? NAOMI BRETON, SURVIVED BEING SET ON FIRE: I need to stay around. I need to be alive for my kids.
BANFIELD: A woman who was set on fire lives to talk about her struggle to survive.
SAMBOLIN: And another milestone at New York's ground zero today. President Obama plans to be there for that milestone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.
BANFIELD: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is now 5:30 on the east coast. Let's get you started with the top news of the day, and we begin with this. A new developments this morning in Syria where there is more evidence of the Assad regime's alleged crimes.
This evidence coming to light, thanks to an international agency that has been declined the ability to go into that country for over a year and decided instead to just sneak in and do the work themselves.
Ivan Watson is following the developments in Syria from Istanbul, Turkey this morning. Ivan, we're talking about Amnesty International, a well-renowned global group finally coming up with some independent answers to the accusations that the Assad regime says the violence is just a bunch of thugs and terrorists out there. What's Amnesty International saying?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, their report just adds to the trove of evidence that suggests the Assad regime has carried out systematic war crimes, crimes against humanity.
It says that it visited at least 23 towns and villages in the north of the country, in Aleppo and intimate (ph) provinces, that it interviewed more than 200 people, and it had names of more than 10,000 people who had been killed since this began about 15 months ago.
Hundreds of people, evidence that they were killed, mostly men and boys, at short range, and also that more than 1,500 homes, shops, and other buildings in this area that they visited had been torched, apparently, by Syrian security forces. They say that this amounts to war crimes, crimes against humanity.
And amnesty is calling for several measures. One, an immediate arms embargo agains the Syrian government and assets free against Bashar al-Assad and his associates and a referral of Syria to the international criminal court for alleged war crimes, and this is very important.
We've seen Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia sentenced and prosecuted in the international criminal court, and now, a lot of evidence being compiled against Bashar al-Assad, and he's got to be increasingly worried that the international community someday will drag him in front of that court -- Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: There has been, I mean, just evidence upon evidence of atrocities there. The secretary of state in this country, Hillary Clinton, making some pretty strong accusations about the Russians and some of the arms deals that it's had with Syria, particularly, in the form of attack helicopters, those are her words.
And now, we're hearing some mitigation from the Department of Defense on just whether or not the Russians really did send or are sending attack helicopters or if there is some kind of a spin on this. Can you explain what the controversy is over the attack helicopters at issue?
WATSON: Sure. I mean, Russia is the largest arms supplier to the Syrian government. And the Syrian government uses Russian-made helicopters. Russia has said that all it did was fulfill existing contracts to refurbish military helicopters used by the Syrian military.
There's increasing evidence that the Syrian government is increasingly using helicopters against the rebels, against the opposition, especially because it's losing more and more tanks, it appears the rebels are getting their hands on anti-tank weapons. Russia denies it has sent fresh helicopters, new helicopters to the Syrian government.
And meanwhile, Hillary Clinton denying accusations that the U.S. is arming the rebels. Take a listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I would emphasize that the United States has provided no military support to the Syrian opposition, none. All of our support has been medical and humanitarian to help relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, a total of $52 million, so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: But Ashleigh, basically, the longer this conflict goes on, the more we're going to see foreign patrons smuggling weapons to different parties in the conflict. I've seen guns being run across the Turkish border to the Syrian rebels.
We've heard of shipments of Iranian weapons stopped by the Turks going to the Syrian government. Russia has -- there's evidence that it sent boatloads of guns to the Syrian government, and this is just going to get worse and worse the more this conflict escalates -- Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Ivan Watson reporting live for us in Istanbul, Turkey, this morning. Thank you, Ivan.
And also, coming up on "STARTING POINT" at 7:30, Soledad O'Brien is going to speak with former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, about the deteriorating situation in Syria. SAMBOLIN: A Texas man convicted of murder in a stand your ground case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jurors, find the defendant, Raul Rodriguez, guilty of manslaughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order in the court, no outbursts, please.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Raul Rodriguez faces life in prison for a shooting two years ago that he recorded on video. His unarmed neighbor was shot in a confrontation over a noisy house party. Rodriguez claimed self-defense citing Texas version of a stand your ground law, but the jury was not buying it, allowing the victim's family some closure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still lost a piece of us, a piece that will not come back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my husband, and I miss him so much and I just, I just know that he's up there, and he helped all of us get through this today.
SAMBOLIN: Rodriguez will be sentenced later today.
BANFIELD (voice-over): A Florida woman who was caught on camera being doused with gasoline and then set on fire says she just kept thinking of her three sons as she fought for her life. You can see the pictures. They are overwhelming. That's Naomi Breton on your screen just after she stopped at a Boynton Beach gas station early Monday.
She was there to pick up her four-year-old son from the boy's father, but the father, Roosevelt Monteshire (ph), not bring that boy. Instead, he allegedly started to pour gasoline on Breton, pulled out a lighter and set her on fire. She removed her burning clothes and says she somehow managed to call 911.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETON: He set me on fire. OK? He set me on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Female says the male set her on fire.
BRETON: Hurry up. Please, please, please. It burns.
And I go up in flames. And that's when I started screaming, and the only thing I thought to do was take off my clothes. My main thing is I need to stay around. I need to be alive for my kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: She says she suffered second and third-degree burns to her arms, her stomach, and her face.
SAMBOLIN: My gosh.
BANFIELD: Roosevelt Monteshire, by the way, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder.
SAMBOLIN: A miracle she's alive.
More stomach turning testimony could be on tap today at the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial. Three more accusers are expected to give their accounts of alleged abuse by the former Penn State football coach. Five of his ten alleged victims have already taken the stand, including one who claims Sandusky threatened his family if he ever spoke out.
BANFIELD: The World Boxing Association has assigned five international judges to rescore Manny Pacquiao's controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley. This one is hugely controversial. Most observers who are at ringside gave the fight to Pacquiao easily, but two of the three judges scored the bout seven rounds to five in Bradley's favor, instead for a split decision victory.
World Boxing Association says it is not considering stripping Bradley of his championship belt. It will simply rescore the fight and make a recommendation. Pacquiao's contract called for a rematch in case he lost to Bradley.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): As New York's new World Trade Center building stretches closer to completion, President Obama stops in today to check out the progress firsthand. Here's a live look for you right now. We're going to take you inside the freedom tower to see what he's going to see. That's coming up.
BANFIELD: Good morning, New York City. If you don't recognize that part of the skyline, you should or at least you will soon. That's Freedom Tower, folks, as the sun rises over Manhattan. It is 66 degrees in the Big Apple right now, rising to 76 a little later on today.
And that's nice weather for the president. He's expected to make his fourth visit today to the World Trade Center construction site. That's later on this afternoon. And there's been a lot of progress since the last time he came to town, but it has been a very long and tough road for the thousands of people who've been involved in the rebuilding of that World Trade Center site.
And our Poppy Harlow joins us from Lower Manhattan. She's standing by live. So, we're at 104 floors and counting, Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: We are, absolutely. It's just an incredible view. We actually got access to nearly the top, the 94th floor, so we'll show you what it is like that high up. They've been building one floor a week here, a very rapid clip, but it has been ten years and counting since the 9/11 terror attacks and not one of the buildings is complete yet.
So completion, nearing completion, that topping out is a very big deal here, and it is a very big deal for all the workers that the president is going to come today.
HARLOW (voice-over): 1,300 feet tall and climbing, the world's most watched building is fast approaching its final height.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's just two words sums it up, pride and honor.
MIKE PINELLI, GEN. SUPERINTENDENT, TISHMAN CONSTRUCTION: This is how we fit in, you know, where the final process of the rebuilding, you know, signifies our resiliency as a nation.
HARLOW: For the more than 3,000 men and women rebuilding the World Trade Center, today is big. President Obama will tour the site and sign a beam to be placed at the top of one World Trade Center.
PINELLI: He's going to come and sign it. It will be the first signature on the top.
HARLOW: This top falls right in line with the president's latest jobs push.
PAT FOYE, EXEC. DIR., PORT AUTHORITY OF MY & NJ: This is a big job generator for New York City and for the New York/New Jersey region.
HARLOW (on-camera): It was July 2004 when ground was broken for the freedom tower, but a year later, those plans were scrapped due to security concerns. Then in April 2006, a second groundbreaking, and that brings us to where we are today.
PAUL GOLDBERGER, AUTHOR, "WHY ARCHITECTURE MATTER": Political situation as well as the architectural and engineering challenges were all unprecedented here. It stopped and started and changed directions several times. It's been very hesitant. There've been all these political battles and financial battles over it.
HARLOW: What do you say to those that have criticized how long this has taken?
FOYE: Well, my response to that comment is they're right. The project has taken longer. It's cost more. I would expect that the entire site will be in the $15 billion range.
HARLOW (voice-over): Security is priority number one.
FOYE: This will be in an unintrusive way the safest commercial space any place in the world. It will ultimately be 1,776 feet.
HARLOW: Very symbolic number.
FOYE: Very symbolic number, not accidental.
HARLOW (on-camera): And of course, that number representing America's declaration of independence, Ashleigh, now the highest point on Manhattan's skyline, very, very important for everyone here. I am told that the president has not yet been up in one World Trade Center. I'm told that they are planning to take him up.
He will also sign a beam. He'll be the first signature on a beam that was placed atop one World Trade Center. I asked if they were going to take the president to the top, and they said, we don't know, not sure. Secret service would want to us tell you that. I'm sure if the president asks, they would take him as far as he would like to go.
I will also tell you that this is the first stop of before two fundraisers the president has tonight in Manhattan, one at the home of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. This is also a very, very political move for the president. We heard last Friday a very big jobs push focusing on construction workers in this country.
What better place to talk about construction workers and jobs than here where you have about 3,500 men and women, all union workers, building the World Trade Center.
BANFIELD: I've been on presidential campaigns before, and the advanced teams probably would not take too kindly to that assignment of going 1,000 feet up in the air, Poppy. So, that will be fascinating to watch. No matter what, the topping out signature in that beam is going to be very, very cool. So, stay on it for us, Poppy.
BANFIELD: Nice work. Good job. Thank you. Poppy Harlow joining us from downtown Lower Manhattan this morning.
SAMBOLIN: It is 46 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories. Good morning again.
ROMANS: Good morning again, Zoraida and Ashleigh.
ROMANS (voice-over): The child sex abuse trial of former Penn State football coach, jerry Sandusky, now entering its fourth day. Jurors are expected to hear more graphic testimony from three of Sandusky's accusers. Five of the ten alleged victims have already testified for the prosecution which could finish presenting its case by tomorrow.
Federal prosecutors are dropping the remaining charges against former presidential candidate, John Edwards, and they don't plan to retry him. The justice department had accused Edwards of using close to $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair.
Earlier this month, a jury acquitted Edwards on six counts and was deadlocked on the remaining five.
It's about to get easier for President Obama and Mitt Romney to raise campaign cash. The Federal Election Commission unanimously approving a measure that now allows campaigns to get donations by text. There would be a $50 limit per phone number.
And say hello to Niagara Falls, New York, and say, so long to your student loans. The city is trying to lure new college grads and keep them there by offering to pay off their student loan debt. New grads will have to commit to two years living and trying to work in Niagara Falls. The city will reimburse them up to $3,500 a year during their two-year stay.
And we spoke to the city yesterday, and they're just getting the application process under way. Don't have any takers quite yet, but I promise you, I will stay on this, find some of these kids who are going there to get their student loans --
SAMBOLIN: I would imagine there'll be a lot of kids taking advantage of that.
ROMANS: A lot of other cities are looking at this, too, especially in towns where they've been trying to attract young talent, even their kids from their own state who keep going the brain drain to the big cities. They want to try to keep them there. You have to live within a certain area, they tell you exactly which blocks to live in. It's all mean (ph) to make sure you have people there.
BANFIELD: Usually, those are towns that are just so way far flung out, not near to hubs and all the rest, but Niagara Falls is a great place.
ROMANS: You know, every person is an engine of economic activity, every cup of coffee they buy. Every time they fill up their gas tank, I mean, kid out of college with a student loan, if you can get that trade made, every person is this economic engine and that's what these cities want.
BANFIELD: We could move the studio to Niagara Falls --
SAMBOLIN: Niagara on the lake is what I would choose. That's -- maybe some of those kids can end up there.
BANFIELD: It's a honeymoon beautiful.
Thank you, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome. BANFIELD: It's 49 minutes now past 5:00 a.m. on the east coast. And for a website known for offering great deals, this does not sound like too much of a bargain. 1,000 bucks for a baby name. Yes. Baby name. We'll explain what this is all about and why GroupOn is into this.
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Look at what is trending on the web, an extremely tense interview between NBA commissioner, David Stern, and sports radio host, Jim Rome.
BANFIELD: Oh, really? Intense interview with Jim Rome?
SAMBOLIN: (INAUDIBLE) as the league draft lottery was rigged after an NBA owned team the Hornets won the first pick and angry Stern lashed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF JIM ROME, SPORTS RADIO HOST: Was the fix in for the lottery?
VOICE OF DAVID STERN, NBA COMMISSIONER: Uh, you know, I have two answers for that. I'll give you the easy one. No. And a statement, shame on you for asking. Have you stopped beating your wife yet?
ROME : Yes. I don't know if that's fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Whoa. So, the interview went straight downhill from there. Yes. When asked about Stern's wife beating comments, an NBA spokesman called it an unanswerable question just like the one Rome asked the commissioner.
BANFIELD: Kind of a famous question, actually. I've heard that asked a lot.
BANFIELD: OK. So, we've got the wild child for you revealed. First look at the newest star of "Twilight" Renesmee, the half-human, half-vampire daughter of Bella and Edward. Oh! This is going to get the teens crazy this morning.
SAMBOLIN: That was great casting.
BANFIELD: Isn't it? Look how beautiful. The character Renesmee is played by 11-year-old Mackenzie Foy. The final "Twilight" movie "Breaking Dawn 2" hits theaters in November.
SAMBOLIN: Wow. All right. So, deal Web site, Groupon, wants to name your baby. Seriously. Groupon is charging $1,000 for any expecting couple willing to name their charge Clembough. That's C-L- E-M-B-O-U-G-H. No substitutes, they say. The company says Clembough is, quote, "the moniker for the ages."
So far, six couples have taken the deal. This isn't the first whacky offer from Groupon. A week ago, Groupon posted a $100 deal for one of its employees to actually go into your home and tuck you into bed.
BANFIELD: I actually like that name Clembough. It's short as a Clem, kind of cute.
SAMBOLIN: Clem is cute.
BANFIELD: Some people might think it's Clementine. We never have to tell, right?
BANFIELD: So many that one of those sophisticated fighting machines in the U.S. military is not such a lemon after all. It turns out that the problem with the F-22 raptor might not have to do so much with the mechanics itself but maybe with the person flying it and more to the point what he's wearing. The story is coming up.