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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Battle Over Bush Tax Cuts; "Internet Doomsday" Arrives

Aired July 9, 2012 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Breaking news this morning: President Obama plans to fire the first shot today in the renewed battle over the Bush tax cuts.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Plus, kicked off the web. Tens of thousands of people could wake this up morning with no Internet service -- thanks to some pretty nasty malware.

VELSHI: And, finally, some relief. A cold front breaks the heat wave but brings damaging storms along with it.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi, Zoraida Sambolin is off today.

BANFIELD: Good to have you here with us this morning.

VELSHI: And great to be back.

BANFIELD: And a good Monday morning to you all. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

VELSHI: We begin this morning with breaking news. We have learned that President Obama is holding a big event at the White House Rose Garden later today to resurrect the battle over the Bush tax cuts. He will be surrounded by working class Americans while he calls on Congress to extend tax cuts for everyone, making $250,000 a year or less. Republicans want the tax cuts extended for everyone, the wealthy included.

The White House will be very busy framing the tax cut debate this week with events planned in New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado and Florida.

Republicans as I mentioned want the tax cuts extended for all Americans, even the wealthiest.

At 7:00 eastern on STARTING POINT, we'll talk about that position with Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

BANFIELD: And we have been warning you and warning you and now, the time has come. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to wake up this morning and computers will be dark. No web service.

As of 12:01 this morning, the FBI -- yes, it was the FBI who was behind this -- set to turn off a whole set of servers that were keeping an estimated 300,000 computers safe from the Internet doomsday virus. They've been keeping them safe for a long time but it couldn't go on forever.

So, now, if your computer is infected you're on your own, unfortunately.

Dan Simon live from San Francisco this morning.

So first of all, give us the backdrop for anybody still waking up not knowing this was coming. How did this all happen?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. You know, this goes back to 2007. This was a sophisticated online advertising scam, Ashleigh. And cyber thieves from Estonia, they were able to infect about 4 million computers worldwide with this really nasty computer virus, this malicious software. And that software forced unsuspecting users to fraudulent Web sites and interfered with web browsing.

So, the FBI broke up this ring last year, but they quickly concluded, Ashleigh, if you turn off these bad internet servers, these corrupted ones, it would knock people off the Internet. They did something clever, pretty unprecedented. They replace d those bad servers with good, clean FBI servers that enabled people to stay on line. But they cut the cord at midnight, as you said. So, if you get didn't gets prepared, unfortunately, you're out of luck -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Now, I was realizing every evening that I had forgotten to go ands checked my computer at home. So, last night, before midnight, I did. I went to that Web site, dcwg.org. And I got that all clear. It's literally the green of the shirt that I'm wearing. It just pops up a full screen green icon.

If you're infected it shows up red.

For anybody who didn't get the chance to do that, is it too late to do that and what can you do?

SIMON: Well, it is pretty much too late because if you lost service you can't access that site, right? We have to say this was a pretty effective public service campaign that most people in recent days did go to that site if they had a problem and they got things figured out.

We don't know quite yet what the impact is. We believe it was somewhere between 45,000 and 65,000 people who potentially had this problem. So, if you don't have Internet, the best advice, Ashleigh, contact your local service provider. They should be able to walk you through things or better yet, take it to a local computer repair shop, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And they did tell us over and over again the fix would be a lot tougher after the fact if you didn't go to that Web site before the fact.

Dan Simon, thanks very much.

It's now four minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast.

A severe storm threat reporting to you again, high wind, hail, maybe even tornadoes set to start this week in the mid-Atlantic. The storm tearing through Fredericksburg, Virginia, last night, sending trees down and into power lines and into homes, damaging a gym if you can see on your screen right now. There was a cheerleading practice that was going on in that gym. Police saying that seven young girls were injured. They are expected to recover however from their injuries.

Alexandra Steele joining us live now from the severe weather center.

Alexandra, we have been talking about this horrible heat wave and then the relief coming. The relief came and brought it problems of its own.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Relief at a price. That's for sure.

Yesterday in Washington, 102. Let me just show you, this is what they're talking about. Here's the storm that moved through. Here's Fredericksburg, Virginia. Here's Washington, D.C., just 50 miles south on 95, as Fredericksburg. So, you can see the storm cell, the red is really where the intense winds were.

Was it a microburst? Was it a tornado? National Weather Service will go out today and assess the damage. You do it after the fact and you look at the way the trees are down and the damage and then kind of assess where it is and what happened.

Here's a look at what we're seeing right now, more showers and storms expected today. You know, this as you can see kind of lining up and it's lining along a front. That's where this cold front is, dropping South, (a), bringing heat relief but doing it at a price, right?

Here's the severe threat today, south of D.C., Norfolk, Virginia and North Carolina, the winds are the greatest threat.

So, here's heat relief. It was 99, actually got up to 102 yesterday. The front moves through, again, firing off showers and storms today. Down to 88 in Washington. You can see as we head through Tuesday and Wednesday, the relief continues with temperatures for the most part out of the 90s and 100s and into the 80s.

But there's another heat wave beginning in the Southwest that will make its way to the East. So we'll talk about that, too.

So, we are going to be done with this one soon, but stormy, especially through the mid-Atlantic today.

BANFIELD: OK. Well, its good news, bad news. For a lot of people they were really, really suffering.

STEELE: That's right.

BANFIELD: All right. Thank you very much, Alexandra Steele.

VELSHI: Deadly blast in Afghanistan claims can the lives of the six U.S. soldiers. Officials say the six Americans were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan where fighting's been on the rise. In all on Sunday, 29 people were killed in Afghan violence.

BANFIELD: Sad news to bring you this morning. Here at home, Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine has died.

He's probably best remembered for his role as the feisty skipper in the '60s TV sitcom "McHale's Navy." But his career highlight was really his performance as a lonely heart butcher in the 1955 film "Marty." You might not have heard, but it did win him a best actor Oscar.

He died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 95 years old.

VELSHI: Wow.

Power play in Egypt. The newly elected president is now squarely at odds with Egypt's military leadership, Mohamed Morsi, calling the Egyptian lawmakers back into session, overriding a military edict that dissolved Egypt's elected parliament.

It is not clear when parliament is going to reconvene. Egypt's military leaders calling an emergency meeting to discuss the president's move and its repercussions. We'll have more on that in the 6:00 hour. Zoraida is in Cairo and she'll be telling us what folks are saying about this move.

BANFIELD: It is back to work for Congress this morning, following the Fourth of July recess. The first thing the House Republicans plan to do when they get into the chamber is a vote, not just any vote, a vote to repeal the president's health care overhaul.

Heavens to Betsy, we just got out of the Supreme Court and now this. But, really, this is really political posturing because any kind of repeal effort is expected to die in the Senate because the Senate is controlled by the Democrats. The vote in the House is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Well, he could have just written a check, but a Massachusetts man had something bigger in mind for his final mortgage payment. I like in one. The story is coming up. And it involves a penny.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Twelve minutes after the hour. Good morning.

Hillary Clinton is turning the screws on Syria. The secretary of state is warning President Assad that the demise of his regime is inevitable. She also had a strong message for Syria supporters, namely Russia and China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The future to me should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime: the days are numbered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Arwa Damon is live from Beirut.

Good morning, Arwa.

President Assad not sounding deterred or intimidated by Secretary Clinton's warning.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he most certainly is not. It was clearly evident in an interview he did with German television, remaining as defiant as always, continuing to accuse foreign powers for backing the so-called terrorists as the regime has constantly been referring to opposition inside Syria, blaming them for the unrest -- and specifically blaming the United States. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIA: It's part of the conflict. They gave -- they offered umbrella and political support to those gangs to create destability or destabilize Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: So, there the Syrian president clearly blaming the U.S. for this political umbrella. He also was pointing the fingers of blame at countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who he accused of arming the opposition, although he did say he had no concrete evidence of that at this point. But again, President Bashar al-Assad, as defiant as ever, and seemingly as powerful as ever -- so he and the regime would think.

VELSHI: And the violence seems to be as bad as ever, Arwa. Opposition groups reported that 60 people were killed in Syria on Sunday. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus yesterday with talks -- for talks with al Assad. Where, if anywhere, could this lead?

DAMON: Well, that's the big question. And many observers and analysts would tell you that it is going to lead absolutely nowhere. Kofi Annan is in Damascus to speak with the Syrian president, focusing on this new proposal approved by the U.N. Security Council that is effectively a beefed up, modified version of his six-point peace plan that also calls for not only a cessation of violence, but eventually the formation of a transitional government that could possibly include elements of the current regime and does not specifically call for Bashar al Assad to step down.

The opposition has already come out and said it will not negotiate with elements of the current government. President Assad was asked about the possibility of a unity transitional government during that television interview with the German broadcaster, to which he said, look, Syria already has a unity government. We had it after elections. There were some small members of the opposition voted into parliament. It's the opposition's fault they did not get more votes.

So both sides seemingly at this point in time not accepting this notion of a transitional government that would include elements from both sides. That is not to say that even to reach that point we have to see some sort of cessation of violence. So, most certainly, the future does not seem as if it bodes well for Syria at this point, Ali.

VELSHI: At least a political solution doesn't seem obvious.

OK. Arwa, thanks very much for that -- Arwa Damon joining us from Beirut.

BANFIELD: It is now 15 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. Let's get you up to date on the top stories.

A crippling Internet virus affecting hundreds of thousands of computers all around the world this morning and leaving people with no access to the Internet, to e-mail, really to any Web sites at all. The FBI shutting down the servers that were protecting PCs from the Internet doomsday virus. Some Macs and iPads and routers are also being infected, too.

Online security firms like Facebook, as well as the FBI are offering free diagnostic checks for user who may be infected but really by now you're kind of out of luck if you're hit.

VELSHI: And reports say that Usher's 11-year-old stepson has been declared brain dead following a horrific boating accident. Kyle Glover was riding in an inner tube when he was struck by a jet ski on Georgia's Lake Lanier last Friday. The 15-year-old girl who was within him also suffered serious injuries. Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident.

BANFIELD: A close call for a fisherman in northern California. He was fishing off a beach in Santa Cruz when he saw the silhouette of a shark and moments later, that kayak was upended by the tail of the shark and the shark actually bit into the front of the kayak.

The fisherman fell into the water. Take a look at the damage to the kayak. He was able to amazingly swim to a nearby boat without getting attacked by the shark. But they did find a tooth still lodged in the kayak.

VELSHI: Wow.

BANFIELD: Investigators took a look at the tooth -- and are you ready Ali? They were able to determine that great white shark was about 14 to 18 feet long.

VELSHI: Wow. That's why I stay out of kayaks.

BANFIELD: That's why I stay out of the water.

VELSHI: That's it.

A new study by the way says babies who are around pets during the first year of life tend to be healthier. Finnish researchers found those infants had fewer colds, fewer ear infections and fewer respiratory problems. They say contact with dogs and cats helps strengthens the immune system.

This wasn't just a feel good story. The study is being reported in "The Journal of Pediatrics." I though this was going to be totally one of those, well, if you have pets, you better adjust --

BANFIELD: No, no.

VELSHI: And I was ready to debunk the whole thing. But this is actually about health.

BANFIELD: My brother nearly died of asthma and the doctors told us back in the '60s get a dog.

VELSHI: Really?

BANFIELD: Get a dog.

VELSHI: Really? I would have just assumed that would have aggravated it.

BANFIELD: How strange is that? We were told way back in the '60s, if you have pets, your immune system will be strength, your son will do better. Happy to say, Joe is alive and with us today.

VELSH: Nice.

BANFIELD: Nearly died of asthma. Yes.

All right. Top of the world to you. Top of the world, Roger Federer reclaiming his number one ranking with a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title. Take a look at these final hits. Nothing like serious tennis when you fall on the court in awe -- shock and awe.

Federer beating England's favorite son Andy Murray. It's nice to have a trophy but it's sad to see Andy. That's four set. He tied Pete Sampras, too, for the most wins at the All England Club. It was also Federer's record-breaking 17th grand slam victory.

Poor Murray -- Murray was trying to become the first homegrown tennis champion at Wimbledon in 76 years. It was not to be. But, boy oh boy, does the crowd ever loved him.

VELSHI: He was sad.

Eighteen minutes after the hour. So, you know, I collect pennies in like an old mug and then I can't keep them very long. I have to go to the machine at the bank and --

BANFIELD: Toss them in and get dollars?

VELSHI: Right. But some people don't do that.

BANFIELD: That's true.

VELSHI: Paying off the home obviously, a mortgage, is quite an achievement. But a Massachusetts man decided he wanted to make his last mortgage payment especially memorable. He paid it off with pennies. He filled two boxes with a total of 62,000 pennies.

"The Milford Daily News" says the boxes weighed 800 pounds. The homeowner says he started saving pennies when he moved into the house back in 1977.

BANFIELD: That is just awesome. So, your mom telling you all these years, save your pennies, dear.

VELSHI: There you go. Made a mortgage payment!

BANFIELD: That's fantastic. Congratulations. Brilliant.

Georgia -- speaking of money --

VELSHI: Yes?

BANFIELD: This is the other side of the money story, not the good side.

Georgia banker going missing and $17 million going missing with him. His name is Aubrey "Lee" Price. That's him. He's accused embezzling that money, defrauding more than 100 investors.

But here's the catch: Price disappeared two weeks ago and left what appears to be a suicide note, real rambling -- long and rambling. Writes about a plan to jump off a ferry somewhere in the middle of Key West.

So, you think that's the end of the story? Not so fast. The "Atlanta Journal Constitution" says the federal investigators think he's lying. They think he's alive, that has run off to South America with the $17 million.

They've gone so far as to put out a warrant for his arrest. He's been charged with wire fraud. So, he's either floating somewhere with the fishes or having a blast with 17 mil. Either way, the outcome could not be good.

VELSHI: A lifeguard who was fired after saving a man's life will get the hero's honor that many say he deserves this morning. Thomas Lopez is getting the keys to the city of Hallandale Beach in Florida. Lopez, you will remember, was fired last week for leaving his post to save a drowning man outside of the boundaries he was allowed to work in.

"The Sun Sentinel" says Hallandale's mayor is outraged with the way Lopez was treated. By the way, Lopez has been offered his job back but he has declined it. A bunch of his fellow lifeguards quit in solidarity with him and they were all offered their lives back.

BANFIELD: Some of them were fired, too, for agreeing with him and his policy. They were live on air, actually the boss and Lopez. And this kid is pretty sweet.

VELSHI: Yes.

BANFIELD: I mean, he's affable and he's got loads of grace. And he didn't want to do this with in your face mentality.

VELSHI: He was very gracious about it but he said I went to save a life, kind of what I do.

BANFIELD: Yes. And he said I just want to move on.

VELSHI: Yes, he wasn't being a jerk.

BANFIELD: I would hire that kid in an instant.

Hey, by the way, if you want more info, an expanded look at all of our top stories is sitting right there for you on our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. I just hope you don't have the virus that kicked you off the Internet.

VELSHI: But if you do, this is just old fashion TV, you don't have to be on the interwebs to get -- in fact, call your friends, because they might not be watching. They may be struggling on the Internet to get the news.

BANFIELD: Right.

VELSHI: All right. These banks, you've heard about this, they were accused of rigging interest rates overseas. By the way, they're interest rates that affect you, just so you know. This scandal could affect how much you're paying for loans or mortgages in the United States. We'll tell you how, after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes now past 5:00 on the East Cast. We're minding your business. And the U.S. stock futures are trading lower this morning and for good reason.

That whole Friday jobs report is nasty. It's a bit of a domino effect. We're still reeling from the effects of the lower number than a lot of people were hoping for.

VELSHI: Yes. The reaction was pretty strong. Keep in mind, it was a thin week last week, a lot of people were off. But it pushed all the three major indices into the red. That was Friday.

This week, though, things change a little bit. We're going to be focusing on the debt crisis in Europe.

BANFIELD: Oh, goody.

VELSHI: Getting it again.

BANFIELD: Goody.

VELSHI: Corporate earnings. The report card, as I like to call it for Wall Street. Four times a year, these companies come out and tell you how they're doing for your investors.

Felicia Taylor is in for Christine Romans, who's in for Soledad on "STARTING POINT."

BANFIELD: Musical CNN.

VELSHI: Yes. Good morning.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's OK. We switch around. It's all good.

VELSHI: What's our report card looking like.

TAYLOR: Well, we've got Alcoa reporting today. That's the first of the sort of big companies to report for the American market. Expectations aren't that great necessarily. They probably made a small profit. But already in early morning trade, the stock is down more than 2 percent.

Here's the situation with some of these companies. They've reduced the expectations for their earnings and then what happens is when they finally do come out, often times they beat the lowered estimate and the stock rallies again. So, it's kind of a funny, interesting game that goes on on Wall Street when it comes to earnings.

But most importantly, on Friday, we've got JPMorgan Chase, as you well know. A lot of the financials have been under pressure for a long time now. That stock is also trading down.

So, we'll be looking to see what these barometers are like for the overall earnings season. It's not really expected to be that great.

VELSHI: All right. We were talking before the break about this LIBOR rate-fixing scandal in Europe. A lot of people say, at least Europe, it has nothing to do with me. That's not really true.

TAYLOR: No, absolutely not. I mean, when we talk about LIBOR, what exactly is that? I mean, it's this interbank offered rate, literally. And what that does is it sets the barometer for things like mortgages, any kind of car loans, any kind of credit card loans -- or credit card interest rates.

So, it has a very strong lasting effect for anybody who is borrowing money. What is alleged to have happened at Barclays and could affect some of these 18 banks that set this interbank lending rate is whether or not they fixed those rates. So, if you're a borrower, you could have ended up paid more than you should have. If you're a saver, you may have gotten a better interest rate.

So, there's a little bit of a conundrum there. But the most important part to understand about this is that it could affect many Americans. We're talking about trillions of dollars in assets here. So, this is very widespread. The three major banks that are being looked are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America.

Now, why does? Again, they were part of the 18 that set those rates. Now, it doesn't mean that you necessarily have to be a borrower from that bank or saver from that bank, because all of you --

BANFIELD: Everybody.

TAYLOR: They set the rates for everybody out there.

BANFIELD: I ever smell a class-action lawsuit to get some of that money back.

TAYLOR: There are lawsuits being filed. Absolutely right.

BANFIELD: What about the people who were the savers? Do they have to give the money back because benefited?

TAYLOR: Well, that's called the claw back and I don't know if we're going to get that far, if they have to give back any money they earned.

VELSHI: The markets are down all over the world. A lot of those markets had to catch up to U.S. markets after Friday's bad trading from the unemployment report.

BANFIELD: You'll have to cancel summer vacations. That will be really bad.

VELSHI: That's right.

BANFIELD: All right. Thanks very much, Felicia.

So, here's a question. Was there a second gunman in RFK's assassination? Coming up, a witness who was there that night is about to tell all, in court no less.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Who's waking up without the web? We are still assessing the impact of a malware attack that could infect thousands -- in fact, tens of thousands of people.

VELSHI: In cash you're not detecting it, Ashleigh's gloating because she has the Web this morning.

BANFIELD: True (ph).

VELSHI: Did Texas require voters to show photo I.D. at the polls? A panel of judges will hear that case today.

BANFIELD: Can this woman do something no other American has ever done before? We'll going to talk to the American who is the world judo champion about her chances for bringing gold for this country for the first time ever in judo at the Olympics.

Welcome back, everyone to EARLY START. it is nice to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

You're here.

VELSHI: I'm Ali Velshi, it's good to be with you. I'm in for Zoraida, who's actually going to be joining us in about an hour from Cairo. It's 32 minutes after the hour.

Well, President Obama is holding a big event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.

VELSHI: President Obama is holding a big event in the White House Rose Garden later this morning to resurrect the battle over the Bush tax cuts. He'll be surrounded by working-class Americans while he calls on Congress to extend tax cuts for everyone making $250,000 a year or less.

Republicans want the tax cuts extended for the wealthy as well. The White House will be very busy framing the tax cut debate this week with events that are planned in New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Republicans want the tax cuts extended for all Americans, even the wealthiest.

At 7:00 Eastern on "STARTING POTNT," We'll talk about that position with Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Kaptur of Ohio.

All right, Ashleigh, listen up. No updating your Facebook, no connecting to the office. Hundreds of thousands of people -- we think -- waking up without the Internet this morning.

As of 12:01 am Eastern, the FBI turned off servers that were keeping an estimated 300,000 computers safe from the Internet -- the Internet doomsday virus. But now if your computer is infected you may be on your own, you and your Internet service provider. Dan Simon live from San Francisco.

Dan, how did this all happen and what's it looking like?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, Ali. We're not quite sure of the broad impact yet. As you said, maybe a few hundred thousand people affected. But this goes back to 2007. This was a clever advertising scam orchestrated by people from Estonia.

A half-dozen people from Estonia, they were able to infect 4 million computers worldwide. They infected these computers with some malicious software. Well, that software forced unsuspecting users to fraudulent Web sites and fraudulent advertising. The FBI, they were able to break up this ring late last year. But when they discovered things, they realized that if they took down these bad Internet servers it would cut people off entirely from the Internet.

They did something pretty extraordinary. They took the bad servers down; they put up some good servers so people could still stay online. That was a temporary Band-Aid. Well, now that Band-Aid, if you will, is coming off. So that's what the problem is all about, Ali.

VELSHI: OK. So, Dan, here's what we're trying to figure out. I go onto my computer. I didn't do this. I'm just one of these deniers, right? If I'm infected with the virus, is it too late now? And will I just not be able to get on the Internet? Or is it possible that I'll be able to get onto the Internet and then sometime in the next few hours or days, it will conk out?

SIMON: At this point you cannot get on to the Internet. So this is a serious problem. So the best advice I can give folks is to contact their local service provider or, better yet, go to a computer store.

Say, for example, you have a computer that was not infected, you have a second computer, you might be able to extract some software, put it on a flash drive and then put it onto the infected computer. That's a lot of work. Just call up your service provider and they'd probably walk you through it.

VELSHI: All right. Dan Simon, thanks so much for joining us. I take it you're connected, because Dan's one of these smart guys who probably figured this out ahead of time. Dan, thanks very much.

BANFIELD: It is 34 minutes now past 5:00 in the morning, and we have some very disturbing images out of Afghanistan this morning, amateur video that shows a woman who is being executed. We want to warn you, it is difficult to watch, but it is important to know that this is happening.

The woman is shot nine times in a public execution by the Taliban in Parowan province near Kabul. And you can hear men cheering to God in the video. The authorities say the Taliban commanders who were responsible for this faked a charge of adultery. They faked a charge of adultery as an excuse for the execution.

You can hear the bullets being fired. We've frozen the video so that you're not witnessing an actual execution. The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, has condemned this, this brutality, calling it, quote, "atrocity of unspeakable cruelty."

VELSHI: Wow.

A woman who witnessed the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy has agreed to testify on behalf of the man who was convicted of killing him. Nina Rhodes-Hughes tells CNN that she's been contacted by Sirhan Sirhan's lawyer for his upcoming legal challenge. Rhodes-Hughes says she told FBI investigators in 1968 there was a second gunman because she heard as many as 13 or 14 shots fired. The weapon Sirhan was holding could fire a maximum of only eight bullets.

A man who was branded a, quote, "full-blooded Jew" by the Nazis was given a temporary reprieve by none other than Adolf Hitler. A German newspaper has discovered a Gestapo note from 1940 that calls for saving and protecting one-time judge, Ernst Hess (ph) -- and this is a quote -- "as per the Fuhrer's wishes."

Hess (ph) apparently served in the same infantry regimen as Hitler during World War I. But amnesty was revoked a year later and then Hess spent years in concentration camp.

VELSHI: The White House challenging Mitt Romney to show us the money. The president's senior adviser, Robert Gibbs, making the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, suggesting to CNN's Candy Crowley that the presumptive GOP nominee has something to hide when it comes to his personal wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: We have got a guy who believes and has been a pioneer in outsourcing jobs. and quite frankly, he offshores most of his own personal investments, presumably to shield them from taxes.

The one thing he could do, Candy, is to clear up whether or not he's done anything illegal, whether he's shielding his income from taxes in Bermuda or Switzerland, is to do what every other presidential candidate has done, and that's release a series of years of their own tax returns.

Mitt Romney's father...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Romney released copies of his 2010 tax return in January after his GOP rivals turned up the pressure, but he stopped short of releasing the 12 years' worth of returns that President Obama has done. Public release of a candidate's tax returns are not required by law, but it has been the precedent set by candidates in both parties.

BANFIELD: The Voting Rights Act is facing one heck of a legal challenge this week -- 25 hours of scheduled arguments will begin today in U.S. District Court. Judges are going to have to decide whether the State of Texas can require voters to present a photo I.D. when they go to the polls.

In March, the Obama administration blocked that Texas law, claiming that it was unfair to minority voters. At 8 o'clock Eastern on "STARTING POINT" we'll talk about the Voting Rights Act, and the challenge that it's facing with Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas.

And Barney Frank is the first member of Congress to marry someone of the same sex while still in office, the Massachusetts Democrat tying the knot over the weekend with his long-time companion, Jim Ready. The Boston ceremony was officiated by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Frank and his partner pledging to love each other in sickness and in health, under Democrats or Republicans.

Did they really say that? That's excellent.

BANFIELD: Google is announcing that it's stepping up efforts to promote gay rights in countries that still have anti-gay laws. The company is calling its campaign, quote, "Legalize Love." It's going to focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual acts are illegal, and Poland, where there is no legal recognition of same- sex couples.

VELSHI: Well, she has already done something no American woman has done in more than a quarter century. About three weeks from now, she'll try to top that at London Olympics. Judo world champion Kayla Harrison joins us live.

BANFIELD: Live (inaudible) --

VELSHI: -- Do not -- do not say anything, Ashleigh, to upset her.

BANFIELD: Do not mess with this woman.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: She can kill you with her pinky. She joins us live, coming up. It's 40 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Good morning, Lady Liberty. That's a beautiful sight in the morning, isn't it? Seventy-seven balmy degrees in New York City right now, warming up to 86. But you know what, that's fantastic, considering we were around 100 this weekend in the Big Apple. So beautiful time to get out on the water and take the ferry over and see the Statue of Liberty. Lovely thing to do.

Welcome back, everybody, 43 minutes now past 5:00. The combat sport judo originated in Japan. At the London Olympics that start in less than three weeks from today, well, the U.S. just might have a fighting chance there.

In 2010, 20-year-old -- then 20-year-old Kayla Harrison competed in Japan to become the first female world champion from the U.S. in 46 years. Thank you very much. Good reason to have hand over heart.

Since then she's taken the sport by storm, winning national tournaments all around the world, ranking number four in the world in her weight class and now she could become the first American ever, man or woman, to win gold at the Olympics.

And she is here now.

And I will not make you angry. Welcome.

KAYLA HARRISON, OLYMPIC JUDO CHAMPION: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BANFIELD: You must be just beyond excited about heading off to this possibility.

HARRISON: Yes, 24 days, I fight. So I think about it all day every day.

BANFIELD: And this is -- I mean, this is a big deal. Winning the Worlds in 2010 really put you on the map and a lot of people are saying that you are the big hopeful for gold. Your dojo is going bananas over this.

HARRISON: Yes, it's -- yes, I have. I've done really well for myself in the sport; 2010 was kind of like my coming-out party. And since then, you know, I've had a lot of people help me on the way, you know. My coaches have gotten me to where I need to be today.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: They have a couple of bronze medals, that dojo in Boston.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRISON: Yes, he's the most decorated athlete U.S. has. He's a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and a world champ, so ...

BANFIELD: So I'm doing a little research on you. And I find that you, unlike most women, gained 30 pounds, you put yourself up two weight classes. It took you two years to put on 30 pounds of sheer brawn. It's remarkable.

HARRISON: Yes, it's surprisingly hard to gain the right amount of weight in the right way. It takes time. And it took probably about two years with my trainer, in the gym every day, lifting heavy and putting on the right weight.

BANFIELD: I read a quote from, what do you call him, big Jim, your trainer, big Jim? I read a quote about how when you put on that kind of muscle and strength and you do these extraordinary physical training maneuvers in your dojo, it makes you a better standing fighter.

I'm used to seeing this, stuff on the mat. I'm used to seeing a lot of this stuff. But your trainer that's just for lazy flip- floppers. What's the deal there? How does that work?

HARRISON: So, judo, it's -- you can win in four different ways. but one of the ways you can win is by throwing someone. And traditionally in girls' judo, it's kind of more -- we call it drop and flop. They come in for an attack, they (inaudible) and they flop down. And I guess, which is -- it's nice to hear from my coach is that I don't really do that very often. So that makes me feel good. BANFIELD: Well, there's another side to you that I think a lot of people might not know. Not only have you become an extraordinary athlete, a physical athlete, and you're at world-class status and now this Olympian who's poised for gold, you have had to overcome -- there's no other way to put this -- jut an extraordinary setback in life, in that your coach, when you were back, I think, 13 years old, began sexually assaulting you.

HARRISON: Yes.

BANFIELD: This is someone your family trusted, this is someone who traveled with you. This is someone you were with for years at 13.

HARRISON: Yes.

BANFIELD: And you decided, after a couple of years, that you were going to do something about it legally.

HARRISON: Yes.

BANFIELD: What happened?

HARRISON: Well, when I was 16, I told a close friend of mine, who immediately told my mother. And she immediately went to the police and pressed charges. And then the FBI got involved and he's actually serving 10 years right now in prison.

But it just, you know, you know, you get to the point where you decide that you don't want to be a victim anymore and that you're not going to live your life like that. You know, every day was a lie. Inside, I was in constant turmoil, but on the outside I was supposed to be this golden girl and so happy.

BANFIELD: I think there's something that I found in your -- well, I wasn't reading your journal, but I read about your journal that you had released. Let's just be clear about that. You wrote things like "I hate my life," that you wanted to quit.

HARRISON: Yes.

BANFIELD: Your mom wanted you to quit as well after this?

HARRISON: Yes, I mean, it changes your life. Something like that, it's hard to deal with, you know, just being normal. It's hard to deal to be normal but also to compete in a sport that basically changed my life because of him. It was a struggle for a long time.

BANFIELD: Let me ask you this -- and I'm not sure if you've ever thought of it in these terms before, but while some people might say that is -- that's career-ending, being victimized like that by someone you trust so deeply, it can destroy your life and it can end a lot of opportunities for you in the future.

Do you think you might be in a position now that you're stronger because of what happened to you, in an ironic way? HARRISON: Oh, absolutely, no question. I mean, I would not be the person I am today if that hadn't happened to me. It's -- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but it's made me the person I am today. You know, I'm a strong, confident, happy young woman. And I -- it made me focus on my goals and not let anything beat me.

BANFIELD: Well, we're cheering you on for London. And small hint here, London and competing isn't the only thing that's big on your radar. She's like a total Harry Potter nerd. And you actually want to go to the set and be a muggle?

HARRISON: Yes, yes. I want to be a muggle for a day, yes.

BANFIELD: (Inaudible) for you at the Olympics? A muggle.

HARRISON: Yes, exactly.

BANFIELD: Kayla, good luck, and I hope you'll come back when you're sporting gold and you'll come and show it to us and (inaudible) your experiences. It's nice to meet you. Cheers and good luck.

Ali?

VELSHI: Excellent interview, Ashleigh. I would take issue if I were conducting the interview with that comment that Kayla made about how difficult it is to lose weight -- I mean to gain weight. I can give you a couple of lessons.

BANFIELD: It's the muscle, Ali, that's the issue.

VELSHI: Well, that's true. I have not --

BANFIELD: Any one of us can eat chicken wings for six weeks and put on 30 pounds.

VELSHI: That's right. I have gained -- I haven't gained half a pound of muscle in about 40 years. So I'll -- we'll talk a little in the commercial break, which we're going to in just a second. It is 49 minutes after the hour.

Let's get you up to date on what's going on. A crippling Internet virus infecting hundreds of thousands of computers, leaving people with no access to websites and email this morning. The FBI shut down some servers that were protecting PCs from the Internet doomsday virus.

Online security firms, Facebook and the FBI were offering free diagnostic checks for users whose computers may be infected. But now it's probably too late. If you are infected, you got to call your Internet service provider for a fix.

President Obama will be surrounded by working-class Americans in the White House Rose Garden today when he calls for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year -- not for everybody. A spokesman for the president says he is 100 percent committed to not extending those cuts for anyone making more than $250,000 a year.

Forty-four million bucks, not a bad -- not bad for a day's work. For a few hours this week, William Johnson was the CEO of Duke Energy. The former CEO of Progress Energy signed a three-year contract to head up Duke when the two companies merged.

He assumed the position on July 2nd. The next day, by, quote, "mutual agreement," he was out, replaced by Duke's former chief executive. Johnson leaves with a severance package reportedly worth $44 million for a day of work.

BANFIELD: What? Come on. That can't be reversed?

VELSHI: No, no, the system's not rigged. It's not against you. It's OK that some people just make $44 million for a day of work. Wow.

BANFIELD: I picked the wrong business.

VELSHI: Wow.

BANFIELD: All right, Ali. You know that better than I.

VELSHI: No kidding. Wow.

BANFIELD: All right. We have conflicting images out of North Korea in the media there. On Sunday, the new communist leader, Kim Jong-un, visited a mausoleum to pay tribute to his late grandfather on the 18th anniversary of the North Korean founder's death.

But look at these pictures from a day earlier -- do not adjust your set. The 20-something dictator, the day before, was at a show that featured Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.

Very strange, I know. I have no explanation, because they don't give explanations in North Korea. But you got the competing images, the Disney-like celebration and then the mausoleum visit the next day.

VELSHI: Huh.

BANFIELD: Yes. Enjoying -- well, those are nice seats.

VELSHI: He keeps us guessing. The one thing you've got to give him is he keeps you guessing. I mean, I've got nothing against a little -- a day with Disney to take the edge off, you know.

BANFIELD: When you have kids. All right? Never mind, Ali. Maybe you do (inaudible).

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Rapper 50 Cent is apologizing -- 50 Cent, let's just call him --

BANFIELD: Eddie. VELSHI: -- is apologizing for an offensive tweet about autism. The star received a lot of backlash after he told an angry fan not to follow him because he looked autistic and didn't want no special ed kids on his timeline. The apology came after actress Holly Robinson- Peete, who has an autistic son, wrote an open letter to the rapper. (Inaudible).

BANFIELD: I hope he said he's sorry. Come on, Eddie, you know better than that.

VELSHI: Yes.

BANFIELD: Wildlife experts from around the country are in Alaska this morning. They're trying to save a baby beluga whale. The vets say that the male whale was probably just two to three days old when it was found in Bristol Bay.

It was flown to a marine rescue center, where it's being fed up to 10 times a day to try to keep its immune system healthy. Well, the odds of surviving are pretty low. The baby beluga does appear to be holding up OK so far.

VELSHI: We don't have a name for him, do we?

BANFIELD: I don't think they do. You know what? We could do a little --

VELSHI: We could have a little naming contest.

BANFIELD: -- a little naming contest here on EARLY START.

VELSHI: All right. Well, I --

BANFIELD: I pick "Ali."

VELSHI: Our producer, Christina (ph), knows a lot about whales and water wildlife. So maybe she knows (inaudible) name.

BANFIELD: It's on you, Christina (ph). There you go.

VELSHI: Calling on you (ph), Christina (ph).

All right. Might be the lamp of the future. Take a look at this thing. A light bulb that floats as it glows. It's floating. Nothing's holding that thing up. The story behind it and why you might want one of these and where you can get them, coming up next.

BANFIELD: No, no, I think I'm good. Thanks anyway.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Well, normally, this is the time to take a look at what's trending on the Web, but since so many of you don't have the Web, we're just going to skip that today. No, for those of you who do have the Web, check this out. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This is a light bulb and it's levitating. The LED light is held -- it's L-E-D -- it's in space midair by a combination of regular magnets and electromagnets. There's also a separate pair of resonating coils, Ashleigh, to deliver the wireless power. Why? So that if you turn the light off the bulb doesn't fall and shatter. It's a brainchild of a guy named Chris Rieger. You can't buy it by the way, in case you're rushing to get out and get one of these today.

BANFIELD: I'm still trying to figure out, other than the novelty --

VELSHI: Why you need it?

BANFIELD: Yes.

VELSHI: I don't know. That's -- you have to wait for the next hour for that.

BANFIELD: Kind of a cool room it's in, too.

VELSHI: Yes.

BANFIELD: All right. Four --

VELSHI: A box.

BANFIELD: -- women are trying to pull off the seductive ghost look, because there are so many of you. Footwear designer Janina Alleyne has unveiled her new collection of exoskeleton heels. Those are pretty funky. So it's a 6-inch heel, because that feels good. It resembles a dragon claw. Good luck walking. No guarantees. Doesn't come with a crutch.

Prototypes of these shoes were created on a 3D printer. Clearly, this is a case of function -- well, actually, no, maybe it's form over function, function over form? Hard to tell, really. We are told there are matching hats that go with these.

VELSHI: Comfortable.

BANFIELD: Funky.

VELSHI: President Obama with a big announcement later this morning. He is expected to take a stand on renewing the Bush tax cuts. We've got a live report from the White House about what that means to you.

Coming up next, you are watching EARLY START; it is two-and-a- half minutes till the top of the hour.