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Battle Lines Drawn; Stranded on the Highway; Obama: Extend Tax Cuts For Middle Class; Egypt's Parliament Reconvens

Aired July 10, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Battle lines drawn. Both sides in the race for president staking their ground in the debate over the Bush tax cuts.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Disorder in the court. Rage gets the best of both sides with punches being thrown, in a crowded hallway.


And stranded on the highway. A flash flood strands cars amid now what is a record-breaking weather pattern.

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

BANFIELD: Good morning, everybody. Nice to have you here with us.

Good to have Ali here as well.

VELSHI: A pleasure of being here with you.

BANFIELD: All week, right?

VELSHI: All week.

BANFIELD: It's part of the deal.

All right. So, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Let's get you started with this ,because it's a big story. High stakes.

In the battle over the Bush-era tax cuts, Democrats and Republicans are already playing politics this morning with your take- home pay and nothing sort of the presidency is on the line here.

Here's how this whole things breaks down. If the two parties can't agree on extending those tax cuts by the end of the year, a typical American family making $70,000 a year could get hit with a tax increase of $3,000. That is a lot of pain.

Right now, House Republicans are busy crafting a plan to extend those tax cuts for everyone across the board -- rich, poor and everything in between. This is a plan that cannot get through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The president making a big push to let those tax cuts expire for the wealthiest of us Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's what's at stake. We've got the Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year. And I feel very strongly that the middle class tax cuts, which would affect 98 percent of Americans, should be extended further. Now is not the time for a tax increase on the middle class.

The Republicans say they agree with that. Well, what we should do is work on what we agree on.


BANFIELD: We should work on what we agree on. What a great idea.

Do we agree on anything?

CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington, D.C. this morning.

All right. So, I can see you smiling already. Help me -- just get me off the ledge on this one, because Americans hear about this nonstop. It's almost like white noise. They need to know what exactly what happened yesterday.

There was no issue, there was no policy, there was nothing passed. Wasn't this just politicking?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, and we've got less than four months to go, Ashleigh, until the presidential election and that's what a lot of this is about -- presidential politics. And, remember, you got Congress up for election as well in November.

We went through this fight two years ago the last time we battled over taxes and there was a standstill then and looks like there will be a standstill now. You mentioned, the Republican- dominated, the Republican-led House will vote on a plan to keep everybody's taxes at the same rate whereas the Senate will vote on a plan only for people making $250,000 or less for their taxes to remain the same.

So, yes, a standstill here. Of course, all this is presidential politics. Here's what Mitt Romney had to say about it.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Small businesses are overwhelmingly being taxed not at a corporate rate but at the individual tax rate, so successful small businesses will see their taxes go up dramatically and that will kill jobs. That will be another kick in the gut the middle class in America.


STEINHAUSER: So, obviously, the president and Mitt Romney did not see eye to eye. What do Americans think, Ashleigh? We asked this question last October.

Take a look at our CNN/ORC findings: 63 percent say they would be OK with increasing taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year. Thirty-seven percent opposed. But you can see, as always, a very, very partisan divide here on this one, with Democrats wildly in favor of this.

Independents, see how majority -- almost a two-to-one majority. But Republicans very much against this.

And that is why you're seeing Republicans and Democrats in Congress and here in Washington not seeing eye to eye, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And this does not seem like any kind of secret in terms of the timing. In fact, it looks like extraordinarily clever campaigning, when you dovetail off of what the president was doing in the East Room yesterday with this announcement of a policy, a position and what he's been doing up until now, really hammering away at his opponent's wealth and asking for the disclosure of more of his tax returns, it almost looks as though President Obama and his team are trying to paint Mitt Romney as one of those rich 1 percenters who's trying to keep tax cuts for himself and his cronies. It seems like this is really a concerted effort.

STEINHAUSER: It sure does seem like this is part of the campaign because there was a campaign component to this announcement by the president yesterday. Yes. I think what they're trying to say, listen, I'm with you. I, the president, I'm with you, middle class. Mitt Romney, no, he is just for the wealthy.

And you mentioned that also, the campaign -- the Obama campaign going after Mitt Romney on his failure to disclose things, be they Swiss bank accounts or companies in Bermuda.

Take a listen to the president on WMUR, a CNN affiliate in New Hampshire.


OBAMA: What's important if you are running for president is that the American people know who you are, what you've done and that you're an open book. You know, that's been true of every presidential candidate dating back to Mr. Romney's father.


STEINHAUSER: Rhetoric there. What he's talking about is Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, back in 1960s when he was running for president, disclosed 12 years of tax returns. Of course, Mitt Romney has only disclosed the last year or two. And there are calls for him to show more of his numbers.

Well, here's one number he is showing. Take a look at this. The campaign cash figures for both campaigns, Romney campaign was out first yesterday, $106.1 million raised by Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee in June.

Look at that, $35 million more than president and Democratic national committee is raising. That's a big gap -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Wow, that is massive.

We should also say as well, Paul, that the Romney campaign came out and branded these attacks from Obama as, quote, "unseemly and disgusting character assaults on a successful businessman."

So I think there's probably more coming today.

STEINHAUSER: Oh, yes. Stay tuned. Another chapter ahead.

BANFIELD: Heck yes. And many more. It's going to be like 50 shades of all this.


BANFIELD: I went there. I went there, Steinhauser. Sorry.

Thank you. Stick around. We're going to talk to you a little bit later on.

And also at 6:30 Eastern, we're going to talk about the Bush tax cuts with Erik Paulsen, who is a Republican congressman from Minnesota, also a member of the House Committees on Ways and Means.

VELSHI: I can't believe you just did it.

BANFIELD: I did it. I went there.

VELSHI: Let's change gears --

BANFIELD: You're going to read it by the end of this week. I know you will.

VELSHI: Yes, we'll talk about that.

A full-blown power struggle in Egypt underway right now. The Egyptian parliament is back in session this morning in defiance of the country's military and judiciary. A decree by newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, recalled lawmakers after the military decided to dissolve parliament. Egypt's highest court affirmed the military decision calling it, quote, "final and binding."

Meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a million man protest march today in support of Morsi, the newly elected president.

BANFIELD: Lance Armstrong's legal battle against the United States Anti-Doping Agency didn't last very long. Federal judge tossed the whole thing out, tossed out his lawsuit, just seven hours after it was actually filed. The seven-time Tour de France champion was trying to block that agency from punishing him for the allegations of doping violations, but a Texas judge struck down the suit and then chewed out Armstrong's lawyers saying the complaint was jam-packed with legally irrelevant complaints solely designed to increase media coverage of this case.


VELSHI: Raw emotion and rage. A nasty brawl breaking out in a Florida courtroom between the family of two murdered brothers and the suspect's family. The fight happened after a hearing on Florida's stand your ground gun laws was canceled, the same law by the way that's in the middle of Trayvon Martin shooting case.

One of the victim's friends left on a stretcher after this brawl, possibly with a broken jaw. The victim's father and defendant's father were both taken away in handcuffs.

BANFIELD: Prince, your home run king. Detroit Tiger Prince Fielder won the home run derby last night in Kansas City, which will host the Major League Baseball all-star game tonight. The Tigers' Justin Verlander will start for the American league.

The Giants' Matt Cain for the National League. And the league that wins gets home field advantage in the World Series.

VELSHI: Well, a break from the heat comes at a price. Storms bringing major flooding in the mid-Atlantic. Flash floods left as much as five inches of rain in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, stranding 30 cars on the interstate. Look at that, in a wrap.

The government says the past 12 months were the hottest 12 months on record in the mainland United States. That's not even counting July. More than 2,000 heat records were broken or tied just in July.

So far, Alexandra Steele in for Rob Marciano. Good morning, Alexandra.


Well, you gave away the good stuff. You got that right. It's hot off the presses. NOAA coming out with the latest climate report.

And did you think it was hot? You're saying, this was a hot spring, this was a hot summer? You're right.

It was the hottest 12 months for the lower 48 on record. Since record keeping began in the 1890s. So, that's not even counting, as you said, Ali, July, when we've had on many records, including now that heat and the record moves to the West. Las Vegas, yesterday, 113. Between 110 and 120 out West today, including Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Here's the problem, though. So in the east in the mid-Atlantic we got relief from the heat with this cold front, but now it stalled out. So, the stationary front has the front there, not moving, abundant moisture in the atmosphere, heating of the day, flooding again today especially in that same area, one to two inches potentially.

Story today in terms of the temperatures, boy these look nice, don't they? Eighty-eight in Washington, 86 in New York, 84 in Memphis, Kansas out of the 100s, and 92. So, temperatures much more palatable.

Two-thirds of the country and Southwest that's cooking between 110 and 120.

BANFIELD: I didn't know we would say it's nice to say it's 88, Alexandra.

STEELE: That's right. Comfortable 88.

VELSHI: Yes. We come from cooler places, I guess.

BANFIELD: Don't we though?

All right. Alexandra, thanks.


BANFIELD: I don't know if you saw this, unbelievable embarrassment at a little league game. Remind yourself you're watching little league, with little people. So what's up with the adults? We're going to get the rundown on this, find out what happened. And who on earth these people are.


VELSHI: Well, the Washington Monument will be shrouded in giant scaffolding to fix the cracks that shut it down after that East Coast earthquake. This was the scene last August when the quake hit. You can see pieces of debris falling inside the monument as people run. The monument has been closed since it was damaged in 2011. It may not be ready for public tours again until 2014.

Sandra Endo is live on the National Mall with more on this story.

Good morning, Sandra.


Repair work is set to begin this fall. As you mentioned the Washington monument has been closed since last August, when the 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit this area. After extensive thorough investigation, engineers determined this 555-foot tall monument has to undergo extensive internal and external repairs.

We're talking about things like sealing up cracks, removing loose stones, repairing joints and also internal beams have to be reinforced. This is a big project.

And just on the top area alone, nine marble panels are cracked at this moment. So, they're going to have to undergo a lot of renovation.

And the National Park Service says 700,000 visitors come each year to go inside the monument. And now, they'll potentially are to wait until 2014.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Came a long way. Like to see it, take the whole tour and the experience in. But unfortunately, the powers that be say that's not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Mother Nature, brother. You know, Mother Nature did its thing. I mean, I'd rather be safe than sorry here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Safety's important.


ENDO: This entire project is going to cost around $15 million. A combination of a personal donation from the founder -- or co-founder the Carlisle Group to the tune of $7.5 million, as well as a bunch of congressional funds, Ali. So, a hefty price tag there.

VELSHI: No kidding. All right. So, 2014 is what we're aiming for. For those people you talked to, if they want to come back and get that tour, that's when they need to do.

Sandra, good to see as always. Sandra Endo on the Washington Mall.

Hey, coming up at 7:10 Eastern on "STARTING POINT," Christine Romans is in for Soledad this morning and she'll speak to Bob Vogel. He's superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks about the efforts to save one of the great symbols of this country.

BANFIELD: Sixteen minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. Time to get you up to date on top stories.

President Obama calling for extension of the Bush-era tax cut, but only for middle class Americans, not for the wealthier 1 percent. The House Republicans are already crafting a plan to extend those cuts for everybody -- rich, poor, and everyone in between, including those very wealthy, wealthy Americans.

The president has promised if it ever gets to his desk, he's going to veto it, saying it's just too expensive to do so.

VELSHI: Well, Fast and Furious bounty. The feds now offering up to $1 million to find four fugitives in the murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry shown here. Federal authorities unsealed the indictment Monday against five men, one of those men is already in custody. The U.S. attorney saying a covert manhunt in Mexico has not led to any more arrests.

Terry's death is tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun- running program. Some guns allowed to cross the border were found at crime scenes, including at Terry's shooting.

BANFIELD: Internet doomsday, kind of came and went with a whimper. Feds are telling us about 211,000 computers all around the globe were infected. About 42,000 of those computers were here in the United States. All of them knocked offline yesterday when the FBI finally decided to shut down the servers that they had set up to protect people from a nasty virus that six Estonian hackers -- yes, hackers from Estonia -- implanted in the computers months ago.

That's really not a bad statistic, if you consider that as many as 4 million PCs all around the globe could have been infected at the peak of this virus. Can you imagine, six Estonians?

VELSHI: I was going to say, we don't hear that much about Estonians here. That was a sort of big Estonian news event in the long time.

BANFIELD: I was going to say, I'm sure the government of Estonia is really ticked.

VELSHI: We'll have to see the Estonian version of "The Daily News" this morning.

BANFIELD: The losers who cost us our tourism.


BANFIELD: It's 18 minutes now past 5:00 in the morning on the East Coast.

This is a good time to get you your "Early Reads". We do the newspapers. Before they're even out in print, we've already got them figured out for you.

This one from "Ledger Enquirer" in Columbus, Georgia.

Man, is this ever a loser story. Parents in an embarrassing brawl at a Little League baseball game. The video on your screen tells the story. Here are the beats.

This is Friday night. It broke out after a bunch of adults got into it. When it was over, two adults were facing one count each of disorderly conduct. Yes, the cops had to get in on this one.

One of the league's administrators said this is the most disgusting thing he's seen in little league. According to the police report, you don't often hear about a police report at Little League, apparently the brawl actually was sparked because there was an argument about the music, the music being played for the kids on the field.

VELSHI: I don't even know how you get from there into this.

BANFIELD: I do not know how you get from music to police report.

VELSHI: Yes, that's a stretch.

All right. Police in Houston, Texas, looking for the man they say punched and robbed an elderly woman at the bus stop and stole her money.

Investigators say 40-year-old Tyrone Lee Brown asked the women for money to buy beer. She said something like she only has enough money to buy cat food. So police say she refused, brown knocked her to the ground and took off with her cash.

Not good, man.

BANFIELD: Took off with her money she was going to use to get her cat food?

VELSHI: That's what they say.

BANFIELD: Come on, buddy, give us a break. For beer, nice.

A follow-up from yesterday as well. Remember the lifeguard from --

VELSHI: Yes, from Hallandale Beach in Florida.

BANFIELD: Yes, the one who said, I got a drowning guy outside of my coverage zone, but I'm going to save him. Anyway, apparently now getting the honors he rightfully deserves. Thomas Lopez getting the key to the city of Hallandale, Florida, in the suit and tie in the middle.

He shook hands with the man whose life he saved as well. He was offered his job back but he decided he wasn't interested. He wanted to move on to a different phase of his life, put it all behind him.

And this new development from the company that fired him. That company is now decided it is no longer going to handle the life guarding duties for the city.

VELSHI: That's curious. How did that come about? Is that the city saying that or them --

BANFIELD: That's a good point. This wasn't good. It wasn't good for them.

VELSHI: Bad PR. We're not saving a guy outside of our zone, even if a guy is drowning.

BANFIELD: The head of the company was on Erin Burnett and said this wasn't something that reached the highest levels of the company decision makers and he would have made different decisions.

VELSHI: Different decision.


VELSHI: All right. Well, for an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog,

BANFIELD: And if you're like most Americans, you're putting a lot more money on your credit card these days. Have you noticed? Have you been putting --

VELSHI: I haven't, but I've been watching that people have been.

BANFIELD: So, is this a good thing or a bad thing for our economy?

VELSHI: That's very good question. Puts more money to the economy but more debt on people's books.

BANFIELD: All right. We're going to weigh the pros and cons of that in just a moment.


BANFIELD: Boy, are we having fun this morning. Twenty-three minutes --

VELSHI: We've covered a lot of ground in the last three minutes.

BANFIELD: Language issues, money --

VELSHI: Whether Estonians can hack computers on their own or require a Russian help.

Apparently, this is the breaking news here. There was a Russian involved in this thing to shut everybody's Internet down?

BANFIELD: You know there are some Estonians watching right now who are going to be tweeting you like crazy.

VELSHI: No, I'm saying I've only met nice Estonians. I've never any that committed crimes. I was a bit surprised there were six Estonians, behind this one thing and you told me there's a Russian. No, I've met a lot of nice Russians. But I've heard of Russians involved in crimes.

BANFIELD: He's off -- he's on his --

VELSHI: Producer says move on.

BANFIELD: OK. So here you go. Minding your business this morning, U.S. stock futures in the red. European stocks also down.

All of this despite the fact that Spain got a bailout. What's that?

VELSHI: Well, let's ask our Russian and Estonian expert, Alison Kosik. Oh, no Estonian?


VELSHI: All right. Well, Alison Kosik has some Russian ancestry. She can tell us a little bit of what's going on.

KOSIK: You know what's weighing down sentiment at this point on corporate earnings. Corporate earnings, the parade of earnings started yesterday. They're going to continue throughout the week. The big worry is that they're going to be much lower than first quarter.

So, we're looking at April through June quarter. After the open today at least, we're going to see results from Altria, AT&T, Caterpillar, JetBlue, and the latest goes and goes, after the bell,

So, yes, there's a lot of trepidation because of the slowdown in Europe, the slowdown in China, and how that's affecting corporate America. We'll get the report cards for the next several weeks.

VELSHI: Remember a few years ago, we used to say, things aren't moving as quickly in America as they are in rest of the world and that's the great part because more than half the companies on the S&P 500 make their money everywhere else in the world. Now that's coming back.

KOSIK: It's coming home to roost. Exactly.

Hey, you know, we are racking up more debt these days, though. More American than racking up debt, it's like eating apple pie. Looks like we put more credit -- we racked up more credit on our credit cards actually and made more than any other month since notify of 2007. That was just before the recession. That was $8 billion just in May on our credit cards.

Overall you look at the big picture, we racked up $17 billion in loans, a lot of student loans, auto loans.

You know. this can go a couple of ways. Americans, the bad side, Americans are relying more and more on credit cards to cover everyday expenses since so many people are out of work, incomes are stagnant. But on the other side it's a good sign because it shows people are going back to school since they can't find a job. Going back to school, doing better with that. Also, they're putting money into the economy. They're taking out loans.

That's a good sign. It sort of boosts economic activity so, it can go either way.

VELSHI: And it's also unclear whether they're doing it because there's no more money left so they're cutting into credit, or they're feeling great about the economy. So, hey, let's run up the credit.

KOSIK: It's a great indicator of consumer behavior, yes.

BANFIELD: I think it's great if they're putting money in the economy. That is if they can pay for that debt.


BANFIELD: Right, exactly. All right. Alison, thanks so much.

VELSHI: All right. A teenager makes a daring decision. Coming up, her jump from a midair chair lift. Why she thought it was a matter of survival. Look at that. Oh! We'll tell about you that when you come back.

You're watching EARLY START. Twenty-seven minutes after the hour.


BANFIELD: The truth about tax cuts. The fact and fictions of key claims made by both sides.

VELSHI: And cell phone tracking. A new report on how the police could be keeping tabs on you right now.

BANFIELD: Caught on camera. A New Jersey teenager's sudden plunge from a chairlift. Why did she make this split-second decision to jump off?

VELSHI: Why did she leave that person behind on the chair lift if it was that bad?

Welcome back to EARLY START.

BANFIELD: Exactly.

VELSHI: I'm Ali Velshi in for Zoraida.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you.

VELSHI: Good to see you.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you here. A whole bunch of fun to have Ali Velshi in the house this morning.

VELSHI: Thank you.

BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Ali Velshi, that's the news from "A" to "A". Like I say, --

VELSHI: We're keeping it short.

BANFIELD: Listen (ph).

(LAUGHTER) VELSHI: You've been hearing all about these Bush tax cuts obviously over the last 24 hours. Right now, we really want to dig into the numbers for you. Now, President Obama yesterday called for the so-called Bush tax cuts to be extended for everyone making less than $250,000. So, here's a quick look at why we got these tax cuts in the first place.

It all started during the final years of President Clinton's term in office. If you recall, the country had a budget surplus. In 2000 that surplus stood at $230 billion. We took in $230 billion more than we spent. Wow!

Then, the 2000 presidential election came along and then Texas governor George W. Bush going up against Al Gore said, quote, "My opponent believes the government owns the surplus. I believe the surplus is the people's money and we ought to hand some of it back," end quote. And hand it back, newly elected President Bush eventually did.

He was able to pass two tax cuts, in 2001 and 2003. There were more of them in 2006. They did it through a process called reconciliation, and that is the same process used to pass healthcare reform. Now, the tax cuts first expiration date was back in 2010. The cuts were then extended for another two years after Vice President Biden and Senator Mitch McConnell brokered a deal.

That brings us to the president's new call to extend those rates, but only for people making less than $250,000. And a lot of claims are being thrown back and forth. So, we wanted to break down fact and fiction. So, let's listen first to what the president had to say yesterday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's holding us back from meeting these challenges, it's not a lack of plans, it's not a lack of ideas. It is a stalemate in this town, in Washington, between two very different views about which direction we should go in as a country. And nowhere is that stalemate more pronounced than on the issue of taxes.

Many members of the other party believe that prosperity comes from the top down. So, that if we spend trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, that that will somehow unleash jobs and economic growth. I disagree.


VELSHI: All right. So, you heard the president use the word spending. He is talking about the government spending trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This is not language that you'll hear conservatives or Republicans use. They don't see tax cuts as spending. Now, what the president said is a little bit of fiction. It's obviously not yet the case.

It only happens if the Bush tax cuts are extended for everyone. Something that the president has categorically said he will not do. And, according to the White House, it's not trillions, as the president said, or even a full trillion. The administration says that it would save $968 billion over ten years by allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire just for the higher earners. Still a lot of money. That's not chump change. Let's listen to what Mitt Romney said about it.


VOICE OF MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Small businesses are overwhelmingly being taxed, not at a corporate rate, but at the individual tax rate, so successful small businesses will see their taxes go up dramatically and that will kill jobs.


VELSHI: So, will allowing the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans kill jobs and hurt small business? That's also fiction. If the president gets his way and the cuts do expire for wealthy Americans, the vast majority of American small businesses will not be affected. That's according to Congress's joint committee on taxation.

Only three percent of small business owners would take a hit. At 6:30 eastern, we'll discuss the Bush tax cuts with Erik Paulsen. He's a Republican congressman from Minnesota and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

And beginning at 7:00 eastern on "Starting Point," we'll break down the tax cut debate with Republican congressman and Tea Party member, Steve King of Iowa, Romney surrogate and Utah republican congressman, Jason Chaffetz, and Democratic Texas congressman, Lloyd Doggett, who seats on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committee.

BANFIELD: President Obama is calling on Mitt Romney to show us the money, at least, his money, but all of his money. The president insisting that his republican rival should be more transparent to the American people, these Obama's words. He and other Democrats also demanding that Governor Romney release his financial records, including more tax returns.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your belief that it's unpatriotic for someone to have a Swiss bank account?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think what's important if you're running for president is that the American people know who you are, what you've done, and that you're an open book. And, you know, that's been true of every presidential candidate dating back to Mr. Romney's father.


BANFIELD: In January, Mitt Romney disclosed his 2010 tax filings and an estimate of his liability for the 2011 tax year, but for his campaign's part, they're saying that these attacks against him and the release of his tax returns are, quote, "unseemly and disgusting character assaults on a successful businessman."

VELSHI: Well, an Arkansas Democrat is ending his Congressional campaign after facing questions about his military service. Ken Aden insists he's leaving the race to spend more time with his family. He's been quote to saying (ph) he was a green beret and qualified as a Special Forces soldier.

The Army disagrees saying Aden completed some special forces training but was removed after failing to meet course standards.

BANFIELD: Russia has agreed to stop delivering brand new weapons to Syria as long as Syria remains unstable. That's a huge development. Russia's foreign minister specifically pledging not to deliver three dozen fighter jets worth $550 million, this despite a signed contract for delivery with the Syrian government.

Russia has about $4 billion worth of outstanding weapons contracts, too, with the Syrians. And those are due for delivery a little later on this year. Those contracts aren't honored, could be a devastating blow to Syrian President Assad and his regime.

And, another development, Russia also saying it would not oppose military intervention in Syria, wouldn't appreciate it, wouldn't approve of it, but would not oppose it or intervene. That coming to Christiane Amanpour from a top Russian delegate with ties to the administration in Russia.

VELSHI: That's a significant development because Russia has really been the major power that has stood between international action, taking it and not taking it.

BANFIELD: Such a called the noose tightening around Bashar al- Assad.

VELSHI: Yes. That's right.


VELSHI: All right. There's a surge in the number of police requests for cell phone subscriber information. "The New York Times" is reporting the law enforcement agencies made more than 1.3 million demands last year. Most were related to criminal investigations involving either the whereabouts of suspects or locating a victim who was in imminent danger.

Well, she thought she was a sitting duck, so she bailed.




VELSHI: That was 17-year-old Melanie Rossomando taking the leap from a seaside height skyride as debris started flying and the ride lost power during a nasty storm on the Jersey shore. Melanie was afraid she was going to be struck by lightning so she took the plunge.


MELANIE ROSSOMANDO, JUMPED FROM SKYRIDE: I looked to my side and I was like, we're right next to a huge, metal pole. In my mind, I was like we are in a metal death trap right now. In my mind, I was like, we're getting struck by lightning or I break a leg, maybe.


VELSHI: What's that look like, about --

BANFIELD: Twenty, 30 feet?

VELSHI: I'm thinking 20, 25 feet, yes, something like that. So, she didn't seem to break anything, but can you at that height. She's on a metal thing, and she thinks there's lightning. I'm not sure that was the silliest thing to do.

BANFIELD: Possibly not. I have thought many times as an avid skier that I would jump off chairlifts when it's 40 below zero, and the wind is howling and you're stuck up there. Never did get to that stage, though. Sand a little softer than snow, I think.

VELSHI: They are OK. Melanie and her friend are both OK. Friend decided to stay in the chairlift --


BANFIELD: She's like lightning?

VELSHI: See you.

BANFIELD: A bold move by Egypt's brand new president calling parliament into session today. This despite the fact the Supreme Court said, there is no parliament. Oh, and, you know, SWAT teams et cetera surrounding the parliamentary building. So, who wins these high-stakes game of political chicken? It's all coming up.


BANFIELD: Oh, now that is a beautiful sunrise, folks. Good morning, New York, as the sun rises over the Big Apple. It is a lovely 73 degrees in New York City. Nice time --

VELSHI: What are we looking at? Is that east toward JFK? I think it is, right? What do you think? Does that look east?


BANFIELD: Here's my guess. You're looking east.


VELSHI: I guess, I should have rephrased that. Are we looking toward JFK is what I meant, I guess.

BANFIELD: Somewhere beyond there is Mecca.

VELSHI: That's right.


VELSHI: Looking east toward JFK and Mecca. Let's try LaGuardia. There's an airport involved.

BANFIELD: We're heading up to 86 degrees.

VELSHI: This is a good thing this is a taped show so we can edit that part out.

BANFIELD: Yes. Right. It's a taped show, Ali.

And good morning to you. So, again, we're not as hot as we were. Man, we were in the hundreds last week with the heat index that was insane in New York City.

VELSHI: I'm just having a stupid moment. Maybe go to single shot, not having me in here for a second.


BANFIELD: There's your single shot.

VELSHI: Not of me, of you.


BANFIELD: All right. So, it's 43 minutes now past the top of the hour. If you're just waking up, there's some big news that's happening overseas, in fact. A real showdown that's been unfolding in Egypt. You know that this has been a stalemate. The country's newly elected president is at odds with its interim military leaders.

Egypt's lawmakers, however, went back to work. They went back in session. The parliament reconvened this morning after the president, Mohamed Morsi, defied a military court order that dissolved that parliament. Said, it's done. He said, it ain't. Egypt's highest court is standing by that ruling saying it's final and binding, but tell that to the lawmakers who showed up for work today.

In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood, that's the group that won the majority of the seats in the parliament, is calling for a million man march in Tahrir Square to support the newly elected leader sufficient to get parliament back in their seats. It's a little bit confusing, I understand.

CNN's Ivan Watson is following these developments. He's live in Cairo. So, break it down for me. As I understand it, despite the fact that there's full riot police outside to the parliamentary buildings, Mohamed Morsi insisted that lawmakers return to parliament and meet today, but it didn't last long. What's the issue now? IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, it is a little bit confusing, but the long and short of it is, I'm outside the parliament building, Ashleigh, and the parliament met again for the first time in a month despite the fact that the court ordered a month ago that parliament be dissolved despite that the generals who have ruled the country since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown a year ago, despite a fact that they upheld the court's decision, the lawmakers still filed in here.

The police didn't stop them. They held a very short session. And the showdown that some people feared here that perhaps the riot police would stop the lawmakers from coming back to the assembly room didn't happen. And it looks like the latest chapter in the ongoing political saga in Egypt, at least for now, is progressing peacefully.

So, that's a good thing. All the lawmakers, the different competing branches of the government seemed to be duking it out in the courts rather than in the streets. And that's a good thing if you consider all the violence we've seen in Egypt over the course of the past year -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Well, Ivan, if they're duking it out in the courts and deciding that this should be a legal and legislative process rather than a violent one, is it possible that we could actually see the new president, Mohamed Morsi, arrested because of this defiant act today, reconvening that parliament?

WATSON: I wouldn't rule anything out in Egypt since the revolution and the famous days of Tahrir Square, Ashleigh. But for now, it seems that there is a kind of dance, political dance under way.

And it is being danced between these partners that are Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president who, at some point, didn't look like he'd even win the election, he wouldn't be allowed to, and the military, their top generals.

And the courts and judges are on different sides of this political power struggle, and this parliament here is on a different side of it as well because most of the parliament members are members of Mohamed Morsi's political party. It's interesting that some of the parliament members, even though the president's decision said, let's have parliament meet again for the first time in a month, some of them boycotted it.

They felt that he didn't have the constitutional right to be able to do that, to overrule a court decision. So, we have a battle being fought between competing branches of the Egyptian government right now. Possibly somebody could try to take another move against the president. We've definitely seen power plays over the course of the last month, two months.

But again, for now, we're not seeing violence in the streets. And that is an important thing. One parliament member I just talked to, Ashleigh, he said, listen, we've got to stop fighting like this, having these political crisis, political crisis. We've got to focus on what really matters which is an economy that is in crisis, and that's a big deal for a major Middle Eastern country with 90 million people and a lot of unemployment -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Let's hope they can continue the conversations rather than get to the violent stages of that kind of a settlement. All right. Ivan Watson in Cairo for us, thank you.

VELSHI: It is 48 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date.


VELSHI (voice-over): President Obama calling on Republicans to cooperate and help him extend the Bush era tax cuts for middle class Americans. But, House Republicans are already crafting a plan to extend the cuts for all taxpayers including the wealthiest Americans. That is a plan that the president has promised to veto.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Embattled New York congressman, Charlie Rangel, appears to be headed for his 22nd term in Congress. Took a while to get to the bottom of this but a final count of a primary vote has the veteran Democrat ahead of his challenger, Adriano Espaillat, by nearly 1,000 votes.

And actually, those are enough votes for Espaillat to concede this thing, drop out of the race. He had sued for a recount on this, but he's now officially dropped the legal challenge.

VELSHI: The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal has apparently not hurt Penn State's ability to raise money. In fact, the school says alumni and boosters helped raise more than $208 million this year, which is the second highest figure in Penn State's history. A spokesman says despite the scandal, Penn State has never lost the support of its alumni.

BANFIELD: This is sad news to report few out of Alaska this morning. Do you remember the story we brought you about this baby beluga whale? The whale was rescued just days after it was born, but sadly, the whale has not survived.

This, despite the fact that marine mammal experts had flown in from all over the country to try to help save that little beluga. The biggest threat was an undeveloped immune system from a lack of mother's milk.

VELSHI: I was wondering about that because when we said that they don't normally survive, they got it and they can feed it, what's the issue?

BANFIELD: Yes. And no word on where the mom is.


BANFIELD: Why they were separated and why this beluga whale was on its own. But very sad story. VELSHI: So, of all the problems you may have with Kim Jong-un, the South (ph) Korean leader, this wouldn't have made the top ten for me, but --

BANFIELD: A lawsuit (ph) from Disney?

VELSHI: It's a small world after all. The Disney Corporation is not happy with this, this picture you're seeing. Images of the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, the company says video that we shown on state television featuring the communist dictator enjoying a show that included Disney characters and clips from its animated movies was an unlicensed use of its products.

BANFIELD: You want to take that guy to court?


BANFIELD: You want to take Kim Jong-un to court?

VELSHI: I mean, I get it that you have to protect copyrights and your patents.


VELSHI (on-camera): This doesn't -- I mean it just sort of seems like an unusual one.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Good luck with that.

VELSHI: Like I just -- on the things that Kim Jong-un is going to be dealing with, I'm not sure the Disney lawsuit is high up on his list.

BANFIELD: But they tells me, soon, you might be able to get a good Louis Vitton bag there, too.


BANFIELD: Speaking of that, somebody who can afford one, Democratic Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, she raked in more than $8.6 million in campaign contributions during the second quarter of this year, and that is a whole lot of dough.


BANFIELD: It's up nearly $2 million from the previous quarter, too. She's a Harvard law professor, and she's challenging Massachusetts Republican, Scott Brown, for his Senate seat coming this November.

VELSHI: And you remember, she was the one who started the consumer financial protection bureau. She was supposed to head it. And 52 Republicans just wouldn't let that happen. So, she had to step out of the way. President Obama nominated someone else. Now, she's running for a Senate seat. BANFIELD: And you know what, raising a whole bunch of money despite the fact that she's been embroiled in a lot of controversy over her Native-American heritage, et cetera. So --

VELSHI: There are things that said that she was a little portion Native-American, and others have asked her to document it, and she hasn't been able --

BANFIELD: You know what happens, though, when there's controversy, your supporters come out with their wallets. So, it's not always we're seeing in the world and state (ph).

VELSHI: There you go.


VELSHI: He's a hall of famer and a baseball legend. So, why has Reggie Jackson effectively been banned from the New York Yankees? The answer coming up.

BANFIELD: And if you're just leaving the house, not to worry, you can take us with you, just log on to and you'll figure out all sort of ways to load us up onto your mobile phone, your iPad, your laptop. We can be with you all the way to work.


VELSHI: Well, it's time to take a look at what's trending on the web this morning, and this is becoming the talk of the major league all-star break. The straw that stirs the drink, stirring things up again. According to the "New York Post," the Yankees have told Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, to stay away from the team after he made comments that Alex Rodriguez's numbers are tainted because of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

He also said catcher, Gary Carter, doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Carter died in February after a ten-month battle with brain cancer. Jackson is a paid special adviser to the Yankees right now.



BANFIELD: That's some controversy.

CDC is officially denying that the zombie apocalypse has arrived. (INAUDIBLE).


BANFIELD: Apparently, this is not stopping from people protecting themselves from the walking dead.

VELSHI: It's always good, an ounce of prevention.

BANFIELD: Prevention. is cashing in on the zombie craze. It's compiled a list of homes and mansions and fortresses and compounds and bunkers and entire islands where you and your brains will be safe from the zombie apocalypse. This including an $11 million castle in Miami surrounded by a moat.

I think there are gators in the moat. It lacks the working drawbridge, so your knight and shining armor will be stuck on the outside, but it is perfectly fine for when the zombies come.

VELSHI: Is that a real story?

BANFIELD: The CDC says, you don't need the moat.

VELSHI: All right. Anger boiling over at a courthouse. Coming up, deputies struggle for control has two sides literally come to blows outside a courtroom. We'll tell you about that. you're watching EARLY START. It's 56 minutes after the hour.