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Obama: We Won't Be Apologizing; Two Americans Kidnapped In Egypt; Chris Declines Leadership Role; Big Banks Accused of Manipulating Interest Rates

Aired July 16, 2012 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Kidnapped -- negotiations underway to try to free two Americans, including a minister, captured on their way to Egypt.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Gone without a trace -- a desperate search for two missing girls last seen riding their bikes near an Iowa lake.

BERMAN: Sabotage in the Tour de France. Tires punctured after someone threw tacks on the road.



BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: You know, you go away on vacation for a little bit. You come back. You got a new co-anchor.

BERMAN: Some new guy sitting here speaking French. You can't go away.

SAMBOLIN: Welcome. Very nice to have you, John.

Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

It is 5:00 a.m. here in the East. So, let's get started.

Up first, authorities in Egypt are trying to negotiate the release of two kidnapped Americans. And time maybe running short, because of the victims, Boston pastor Michel Louis is diabetic. And his family is not here he has his medication with him.

Mohamed Fahmy joins us on the phone in Sinai, Egypt, right now.

Mohamed, where do the negotiations stand right now with the kidnapper?

MOHAMED FAHMY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, just talked to the head of the north Sinai security and he confirmed that they are trying to negotiate with the kidnaper the needs of the hostages. But it's becoming a little bit complicated because the kidnapper insists that his uncle be released from prison and he's saying his uncle is not guilty and he did not commit the crime related to drug charges. But the authorities are also keen on making sure that the Bedouins do not switch their arms. So this is a very complicated situation.

We know in the past that six attempts have been kidnapped attempts in Sinai and none of the hostages were ever harmed. So we are positive that the situation might be resolved soon.

SAMBOLIN: So, let's talk about that, because as you mentioned, this is the third time that we've had American hostages. And everybody has been released. There is no demand for money, but there is a demand for somebody being released from jail, perhaps.

I was just in the area and security is of concern here, and tourists traveling into the area. I was in Luxor, and I was traveling through Upper Egypt. Is there an area there that is not safe for Americans to travel?

FAHMY: Well, if Sinai is known to be a touristic place and there's a lot of religious sites. There has been a security vacuum after the uprising that toppled Mubarak. But security forces here blame the travel agency for not informing them that the bus was coming through because they would have provided security.

Lately, Egyptian security has been trying to increase patrolling, but there's a restriction by the Camp David accord signed by Israel and Egypt that restrict the amount of soldiers to be deployed in that area.

The last kidnap that happened in May where U.S. citizens were involved, the authorities oblige to the kidnappers and release the prisoners and the hostages were released without any damage.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Mohamed Fahmy, reporting for us -- thank you very much. We'll check in with you a little bit later.

And in the next hour of EARLY START, we'll be joined live by Reverend Louis's four children, as well.

BERMAN: You know, Zoraida, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had her own tense moments in Egypt. Protesters are throwing shoes at Mrs. Clinton's motorcade yesterday after she spoke in Alexandria. A tomato hit an Egyptian official in the face and several shoes and the water bottled landed near the armored cars carrying Clinton's delegation.

The secretary of state is now in Israel where she just met with the Israeli President Shimon Peres. She's making only her second visit to Israel in the last 22 months. The unrest in Egypt, Palestinian relations and Iran's nuclear program are all on the agenda.

SAMBOLIN: Incidentally, Clinton was there in Alexandria, which is exactly where that prisoner is that she wants released. So, it's interesting to see how those negotiations happen and was she able to have conversations about that.

And here at home, storms are moving through Houston, Texas, and they have turned deadly. Two people were killed in a lightning strike at a soccer complex -- this was on Sunday. A third person was injured and remained hospitalized now. Authorities say the three players had taken cover under a tree when the sudden storm just rolled in. Police say the lightning strike sounded like a bomb going off.

BERMAN: There were fierce storms here in New York yesterday. My wife actually brought the kids to the basement the lightning was so strong overnight.

In London, with less than two weeks to go before the Summer Olympics, there's a scramble to make sure there's enough security personnel. British government ministers announced over the weekend that 3,500 military personnel are being brought in at the last minute. The move comes after a private contractor admitted it was not able to hire the 10,000-plus workers it had promised would be in place.

A $15,000 reward now being offered in the search for two missing girls in Iowa. Eight-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook disappeared last Friday. They were last seen going on a bike ride near a lake in Evansdale, Iowa. Hundreds of volunteers have joined the police in the search for those little two girls.

BERMAN: And you have to check this out. The Tour de France turning into the "tour de tacks" --


BERMAN: -- after someone placed a series of tacks along the race route. This is not a good idea.

Around 30 competitors in the main path of the peloton blew flat and one rider crashed. You're very impressed by my French. Race officials are asking French police to investigate who placed the tacks along the course.

Those two words, by the way, the full range of my French.


BERMAN: No, I fairly speak English. (INAUDIBLE) French.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So everyone wants to know this morning who is it going to be? We're talking about Mitt Romney's choice for running mate. There's even a buzz about Condoleezza Rice. How do you feel about that? More on the veep stakes, coming up.


BERMAN: And welcome back to EARLY START.

President Obama is in the crucial battleground state of Ohio today where campaign aides say he will double down on attacks on Mitt Romney, saying Romney's tax policies will send jobs overseas.

Meanwhile, the president has made clear he has no intention of backing down from his offensive against Romney's history at Bain Capital.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, we won't be apologizing. And I don't -- you know, sometimes these games are played during political campaigns. Understand what the issue is here. Mr. Romney claims that he's Mr. Fix it for the economy, because of his business experience. And so, I think voters want to know, well, what exactly was that business experience?


BERMAN: And as for Romney, he's stumping in Louisiana with Governor Bobby Jindal, who said to be on the short list for a running mate. There's been a lot of talk of running mates lately, including a big Condoleezza Rice trial balloon.

I'm joined now by CNN political reporter Peter Hamby in Washington.

First off, full disclosure, I should tell everyone I've been a huge fan of Peter's for years. So, one of the big reasons I'm thrilled to be at CNN is get a chance to talk to him here in the morning.

But, Peter, you've been talking to Republican governors, also Hill insiders all weekend. What do they make of this Condoleezza Rice trial balloon?

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, it's interesting. This surfaced late last week on the "Drudge Report". A lot of people in the political world took it seriously because of close ties between the Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades and the "Drudge Report".

A little bit of a mix, like you said, of a trial balloon, but also maybe an attempt to change the subject from the Bain Capital remarks last week. A lot of Republicans kind of privately guessed that's sort of what they were doing.

But if it was a trial balloon, it had its own consequences. A lot of Republicans praised Condoleezza Rice, including Sarah Palin. But many conservatives erupted because Condoleezza Rice has described herself as mildly pro choice. Would this pick, if it did happen, jive with the Republican base? A lot of conservatives said absolutely not.

And George Will, the conservative columnist, put a fine point on it yesterday on ABC's "This Week". Take a listen.


GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Condoleezza Rice would inject tremendous excitement into the campaign and remove all suspense from the outcome. You would have such an uproarious convention in Tampa, you'd have perhaps a third party. You'd have a challenge to her on the floor. It'd have walkouts and delegations and he'd lose 40 states.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HAMBY: And it isn't just the elite political class and the conservatives here talking about this. I was talking to ne Republican Senate staffer this weekend who told me that her office was blowing up with phone calls from constituents calling in to see if Condoleezza Rice is Romney's vice presidential pick, I'm not voting for Romney.

So the fact that this penetrated so deeply just down to voters in the states around the country, it shows you that this might be a problem for Romney if he does go through it.

BERMAN: Right. The air out of that trail balloon in a hurry.

So, now, Condoleezza Rice, who else might Romney be considering and what are these Republicans you're talking to saying about these options?

HAMBY: Yes. You know, if you talk to senior Republicans, we keep going back to these top two names, Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota. Portman, the Senator from Ohio. Neither of these guys are super exciting, but they do -- they are in keeping with Romney's sort of, you know, competence brand. They are guys that have been loyal to Mitt Romney.

Also Bobby Jindal, he's going to be with Mitt Romney in Louisiana this week. So, he'll get a lot of attention.

And Paul Ryan, the House budget chairman, congressman from Wisconsin, is also sort of in the mix, too.

There are lots of other names, Kelly Ayotte, the senator from New Hampshire, Marco Rubio. But again, the top two if you talk to a lot of people around Romney campaign still seems to be Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty. We'll see if we get a pick in the next couple of few weeks, John.

BERMAN: All right. Peter Hamby in Washington, great talking to you. Thanks so much for being here.

HAMBY: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: Thirteen minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-date. Here is Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And welcome back, Zoraida. And good morning to you, John.

Egyptian authorities are working to negotiate the release of two kidnapped Americans on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. There are concerns about the health of one of them. Sixty-one-year-old Boston pastor Michel Louis. He's a diabetic and no one knows if he has his medication with him. The kidnappers demanding the release of his jailed uncle.

A difficult wildfire in a steep canyon is threatening dozens of homes in northern California this hour. The fire has destroyed one home and torched nearly 2,000 acres since it started Wednesday. Local reports say another 170 homes are in danger. The fire is just 20 percent contained.

The California National Guard and nearly 2,000 firefighters are trying to put it out right now.

The estranged wife of Robert Kennedy, Jr. was moved to another grave site. Mary Kennedy has been reburied on a sunny hillside in the same cemetery on Cape Cod. The Kennedy family also bought 50 plots surrounding the new grave to be preserved for his children and their families. Mary Kennedy committed suicide in May after battling depression much of her life.

Officials in San Bernardino, California, are considering a drastic plane to rescue local home owners who are upside down on their mortgages. The county would use imminent domain laws to buy up mortgages of homes that are under water, and then they would cut those mortgages to the current value of the home before selling them to a private investment firm. That would allow homeowners to hang on to their property while lowering their monthly payments -- Zoraida and John.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

Fifteen minutes past the hour. We're getting an early read on your local news that is making national headlines.

Why are you laughing?

BERMAN: I can't wait. It's so great to be here.

SAMBOLIN: OK. So, listen, we're going to start with this newspaper, "The Tacoma News Tribune."

So, what do you like to do for fun? Do you like to go hiking?

BERMAN: Like on my couch. Anywhere I can hike as long as it's on my couch.

SAMBOLIN: Well, listen to what happened over the weekend. There are four injured hikers were rescued. They were working overtime in that area. The North Cascades National Park in Washington state. On Friday, two climbers hit a campsite on the mountain and on Saturday two climbers goes into trouble.

Friday's incident, the climbers were injured by falling snow. That was natural, right? No big deal. But on Saturday, you know what they did? They inadvertently pulled loose a large boulder.

How do you inadvertently pull loose a large boulder?

So they got into a lot of trouble. The rangers had to go and rescue them. It was a chopper team. One woman is actually in critical condition now. She has multiple fractures.

The other injuries they said were not serious, but over the weekend, two times a rescue crew had to come out.

BERMAN: I'm glad they're all right. But let me just say I have never had to be rescued from my couch before.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know.

BERMAN: All right. Here in New York, news of the Lin-sane, Lin- sanity appears to be over. I'm talking about Jeremy Lin, the point guard for the New York Knicks. This was about a month's worth of frenzy here in New York last year.

But now, newspapers are saying he may be headed to Houston. The Lin star state apology there. What's happened is the Houston Rockets have made a bid, a $25 million bid on a contract right there, including a $15 million third year that the Knicks might not be able to match.

So, here in New York, the Lin-sanity might be Lin-over.

SAMBOLIN: How is that possible? You said this morning, a month of my life I spent with this.

BERMAN: We covered it nonstop last year.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable. I'm going to miss what he does (ph). What is he saying?

BERMAN: He's saying he's going to wait and see if the Knicks match the offer midnight tonight. He doesn't know where he's going to play.

SAMBOLIN: I'll miss him.

All right. So, persistence apparently pays off for a man searching for a car that was stolen 42 years ago. I love this story. This is in "The L.A. Times". And I actually thought about you because you are a hopeless romantic.

Do you know this story?


SAMBOLIN: Oh, you do.

OK. So, Bob Russell of Texas found a rare 1967 Austin Healey for sale on eBay. He had lost his a long, long time ago. He was a Beverly Hills dealer. His car was stolen in Philadelphia at some point in 1970.

Do you know why this is so important? Because this car he used for his first date with his wife, then his second date. And somebody stole it. He's been hanging on to the original keys, the title, but he had no reports. So, he could say, that car in eBay is mine and prove it with the police report.

So, eventually, he was haggling with this guy. The guy said no way. Police got involved. The guy got his car back.

BERMAN: happy and the lesson is never give up. Never give up.

SAMBOLIN: He kept the keys. I just thought that was so sweet.

BERMAN: So very sweet.


BERMN: All work out in the end.

And for an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog,

SAMBOLIN: There is a fly right around you.

BERMAN: Everybody is joining in on the party. There's a new fly, a new anchor, new everything.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour. He is the most closely watched man on Wall Street this week. You know who I'm talking about. Everyone wants to hear what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will say about stimulus, about our economy.

Christine Romans covering it all. She's taking a look ahead, coming up.


BERMAN: All right. Minding your business now. Let's check in on the markets.

U.S. stock futures down this morning. European markets are down, too.

Christine Romans is here.

And, Christine, why are all the stock futures down after this big rally Friday? What happened?

ROMANS: This often happens when you have a big move up. We have like a little bit of a reality sets in.

Also, there's an awful lot ahead of this us this week, you guys. We have the Fed chief Ben Bernanke will be testifying on Capitol Hill. We got Citigroup earnings before the bell this morning. We're going to get another gauge of the health of banks.

And , you know, on Friday, what everyone was talking about JPMorgan Chase. I mean, they were just talking this big rogue, trading loss and we're talking the health of the banks. So, we want to talk -- look at Citigroup and see what's going to happen there. There are also lots of other earnings this week.

Also, we're looking for comments from these banks about LIBOR and this big scandal on a very important interest rate. I don't know if a lot of you have been following this, but this is something that shakes the banking industry to its core. It starts with Barclays. Barclays is, of course, settled with regulators over a huge rate ratings scandal. And out this morning, or out this week with an ad in newspapers saying, we're sorry. And the company is really trying to figure out how it's going to go about, you know, getting its brand and its brand back to something that's good and not necessarily bad.

"Reuters", BBC, now reporting that Barclays also put out a memo regarding this, saying that it needs to be put into perspective. But maybe there could be other, perhaps, banks that are going to be pulled into here.

So, look, I want to tell you about the banks that help set LIBOR, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, of course. It affects everything from credit cards to mortgages, students loans, car loans.

It's as if -- it's as if someone were saying the temperature was off by a few degrees.

BERMAN: It's the foundation of the financial industry.

ROMANS: Absolutely. So the allegation here, the investigation in all of these big banks, the investigation is that the these banks were colluding or setting this LIBOR interest rate at a level that was going to give them more profit to make them look better during the heart of the financial crisis. It's a very, very big deal.

So, you'll see, it's another black eye for the banking industry. We'll watch to see what happens here next.

SAMBOLIN: I wonder if these early mea culpas actually help or not, right? When they come out and say, gee, sorry.

ROMANS: Regulated, but mea culpas attached to billions and billions of dollars in settlements. But we'll see how that works out.

BERMAN: Get to the heart of credibility, not a good day for the banks right now.

ROMANS: Right. In the banking industry, which has had nothing but troubles with credibility. But I'll tell you that regulators and prosecutors are interested in this because they have been criticized for not being able to hold the banks accountable for the mortgage crisis, and mortgage shenanigans. They say maybe this is going to be easier.

BERMAN: It's the target they have been looking for.

ROMANS: Exactly.

BERMAN: All right. It is now 5:24.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: In about a few minutes, we will be back with a mysterious death of a Hollywood icon's son, Sylvester Stallone's son Sage. Coming up, what investigators know about this really sad and tragic case.

And if you're living the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phones. Just go to


SAMBOLIN: Twenty-eight minutes past the hour.

Tense negotiations under way to free a Boston pastor and another American being held captive in Egypt.

BERMAN: President Obama talking about the biggest lesson he's learned so far in the White House.

SAMBOLIN: At last, statistical proof that women are, indeed, smarter than men. At least in one sense.

BERMAN: Oh, really? Really?

SAMBOLIN: Yu know this, don't you? This is a proven fact.

BERMAN: It would prove I'm dumb if I disagree with you right now, right? So, I'll take the smart approach and say you're right. Yes, dear.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

I like that, John.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

SAMBOLIN: So, up first here, authorities in Egypt trying to negotiate the release of two kidnapped Americans and time may be running short because one of the kidnapped victim, Boston pastor Michel Louis is diabetic and his family is not sure that he has his medication with him.

We're also hearing reports that Reverend Louis offered himself as a hostage to spare his parishioners when a man ambushed their tour bus on Friday. The hostage taker is demanding his uncle's release from jail in exchange for the Americans.


REV. JEAN LOUIS, SON OF KIDNAPPED U.S. PASTOR: Usually there's a window of 24 hours to 48 hours that this certain negotiations are resolved. And because they're not asking for money, this makes it a little bit more complicated.


SAMBOLIN: The state department says they are working with the Egyptian government to free them as soon as possible. Mohamed Fahmy joining us by phone now from Egypt to Northern Sinai Peninsula. Mohamed, what do you know about the negotiations and where they stand right now?

VOICE OF MOHAMED FADEL FAHMY, EGYPTIAN JOURNALIST: I just got off the phone with general from the Egyptian intelligence, and he informed me that two of his officers had visited the kidnapper on Friday and Saturday. They met the hostages, and he, unfortunately, informed me that Michel Louis (ph) has suffered a diabetic attack. That's how he described it.

But he also mentioned that the kidnapper provided him with medicine that he got from the pharmacy. He's confirmed that the hostages are being moved around in different areas in Sinai and that the kidnapper is very advanced. He is using mobile phone.

He's maneuvering around the Israeli border which makes it even more complicated for the Egyptian authorities to do anything about apprehending him or taking it further, because due to the captivity agreement with Israel and Egypt, Egyptian authorities are restricted in the number of soldiers they can deploy in that area.

SAMBOLIN: You mentioned that he suffered a diabetic attack. Do we know anything else about his condition? There were some reports that, perhaps, he was on some different types of drugs. Do we know what his condition is now?

FAHMY: Basically, the kidnapper has been on national TV here, and he stated that he does not have an intention of hurting any of the hostages. In the past year and a half, there has been six kidnaps that went well. The hostages were released unharmed, and he's assuring everybody that he will not hurt any of the hostages.

The general also informed me that they are well-fed, they are in good condition, but they are also concerned about Michel Louis (ph) due to his health situation.

SAMBOLIN: I have to tell you, I just got back from Egypt on Saturday, and I was traveling along the Nile, particularly. And I was in Upper Egypt in (INAUDIBLE), and as we were traveling to Lower Egypt, they did actually put some armed security on board. And we were just going one town over.

Other than that, though, I have to tell you, I felt perfectly safe being in Egypt. Are there specific areas where people should be concerned about their safety?

FAHMY: Sinai has always been a terrific destination, a lot of religious sites like the St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. The authorities here blamed the travel agency for not informing them about this specific tour bus. They said they would have provided a police escort to secure the bus in the region.

Of course, there's sort of a lawlessness and a security vacuum (ph) in Sinai after the uprising and the revolution that toppled Mubarak. The police are trying to increase the patrolling in that region and, of course, there's been a lot of coverage in the media about these kidnaps. So, it's important to be aware if you're going to that region for the time being. SAMBOLIN: All right. Mohamed Fahmy, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

And in the next hour of EARLY START, we will be joined live by Reverend Louis' four children. That is coming up right at the top of the hour, 6:00 a.m. eastern time.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And staying in the Middle East. He's the highest ranking Syrian officials at effect. Nawaf al-Fares was the country's long-time ambassador to Iraq. He tells CNN he's now firmly on the side of the Syrian uprising.


NAWAF AL-FARES, AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ (through translator): I served the Syrian regime for 34 years in many different positions. But after what happened in the last year during the holy revolution, all of the killings, the massacres, the refugees, I don't see how anyone can remain silent.


BERMAN: He's calling on his former regime colleagues to abandon the Assad government. He says history will curse the Syrian president for the crimes he's committed against his own people. Strong words.

SAMBOLIN: And the Red Cross is now calling the violence in Syria a civil war. And that means that international humanitarian law applied, and the both government and rebel forces can be tried for the war crimes. We want to warn you, the video from Syria you're about to see is just disturbing to many of our viewers.

The declaration comes in the wake of accusations. Look at this. Accusations that Syrian government forces massacred up to 200 civilians in the town of Tremseh. The government says it was a military operation against rebel fighters.

BERMAN: Politics now, President Obama admits he's been feeling frustrated at times during his first term in the White House. He tells Charlie Rose on CBS News that one of the biggest lessons he's learned since taking office is that everything takes longer to get done than he'd like. Join the club, Mr. President. So, what's his biggest regret to date? Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is that I haven't been able to change the atmosphere here in Washington to reflect the decency and common sense of ordinary people, Democrats, Republicans, and independents, who I think just want to see their leadership solve problems. Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago.


BERMAN: So, who's at fault for Washington being broken? The president said there's enough blame to go around for that. SAMBOLIN: The obama campaign has an unlikely ally, and it's pushed to get Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. Conservative commentator, Bill Kristol, says Romney needs to do it so he can turn the page.

To release tax returns tomorrow, this crazy. You've got to release six, eight ten years of that tax returns. Take the heat for a day or two. They give a serious speech on Thursday in which he says, OK, we've had this ridiculous picky (ph) debate about whether I took my leave from Bain and when I didn't and you can look -- now, look to our tax returns. Now, let's have a debate about capitalism. Let's have a debate about business, and let's have a debate about jobs.


SAMBOLIN: Kristol says Romney must get the focus back on President Obama's economic record.

BERMAN: A lot of Republicans said (ph) they would like to see the topic change right now. When it comes to the big flack over the U.S. Olympic uniforms being made in China, Mitt Romney doesn't seem too concerned. His senior adviser telling NBC News the candidate doesn't believe in politicizing the games and just wants to stand by the athletes to make sure they have the best time experience possible. Mitt Romney run the 2002 games in Salt Lake City.

SAMBOLIN: It will be another six to eight weeks before authorities can determine exactly what caused the death of Sylvester Stallone's oldest son, Sage. We've been talking about this this morning. The L.A. County coroner conducted on autopsy on Sunday, but they still need the results of toxicology test.

The 36-year-old Stallone was found dead Friday inside his Hollywood home. He was engaged to be married and was working on various film projects at the time of his death.

BERMAN: It's sad.


BERMAN: NBA star Jason Kidd is in trouble with the law in New York just days after reportedly signing a contract with the New York Knicks. Take a look at this headline. Wait.


BERMAN: It says "Slam Drunk." It's on "Post" and "The Daily News." A great headline this morning. Kidd was arrested for driving while intoxicated after smashing his SUV into a telephone pole in the Hamptons. Kids all played for the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks.

Of course, this all happening where Jeremy Lin is apparently or might be leaving New York. So, tough news for the Knicks this morning.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding. Why did you do that, you know?

BERMAN: I'm a Celtics fan. (LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right. Good news, girls. Women are officially smarter than men. though, we all knew this. This is according to a new study.

BERMAN: What do you mean we?

SAMBOLIN: We, everybody, a collective -- I'm surrounded by men here. Females have outscored men on IQ testing for the first time in a century. While more data is needed to explain the trend, psychologists say one reason could be because women are better at multi-tasking.

Today, women work than raises a family and may just be able to adapt their thinking at a faster rate as well, Mr. Berman. Don't look at me like that.

BERMAN: I'm sure you're right, because you're so smart like all women.


BERMAN: You're so smart you might be right. I believe you 100 percent.

SAMBOLIN: Well done. You're wise --

BERMAN: See, all men aren't stupid here.


BERMAN: All right. Moving on now, it is 38 minutes past the hour. Politics, he famously refused to run for president, but now New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, has turned down a chance at another big role. Curious? The story, coming up.


BERMAN: And there she is, a beautiful look over New York City, the city that never sleeps.

SAMBOLIN: That makes you want to jump out of bed and dance, doesn't it?

BERMAN: If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere.


BERMAN: Seventy-two degrees now. It's going to get to 93. You won't want to be dancing later. It's going to be hot and sticky. It is 42 minutes past the hour now, and let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with the morning's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: If you can make it there, you've got too many credit card bills, and you're probably (INAUDIBLE).


ROMANS: All right. Let's move on to some news headlines.


ROMANS (voice-over): Right now, authorities in Egypt are attempting to negotiate the release of two Americans who were kidnapped on Egypt Sinai Peninsula Friday. There are concerns about the health of one of the hostages, 61-year-old Boston pastor, Michel Louis (ph). He's a diabetic.

It's not clear if he has his medication with him right now. The kidnaper is demanding the release of a jailed uncle in return.

Less than two weeks to go before the Summer Olympics in London, there's a scramble to make sure there's enough security personnel. British government minister has announced over the weekend that 3,500 military personnel are being brought in at the last minute to move comes after a private contractor admitted it was not able to hire the 10,000 plus workers it had promised to put in place.

Stop whatever you're doing. Check out this amazing video of landslide caught on camera in British Columbia, knocking down trees, wiping everything in its path. A news crew, believe it or now, captured this real-time footage. They were on a boat. They've just escaped disaster. Journalists have been documenting the aftermath of another landslide that wiped out three homes last week.

Rescue crews say they found the body of one of four people missing in that landslide. I know. Officials say the other three people caught in the prior slight were also dead.

The Department of Homeland Security giving Florida access to a federal law enforcement database to challenge voter credibility. The database contains alien registration numbers. Florida officials have sued to get the information in an effort to purge noncitizens from its voting roles. The legal wrangling has been closely watched in several other swing states looking for similar access.

New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, says he has enough on his place so he's declining to take a key leadership role on the National Governor's Association. You know, he's a rising star on the Republican Party. He was supposed to become vice chairman of the organization over the weekend. But in a surprise move, he said he would not be able to commit the time necessary to perform the role properly.

All right. You're not what you eat. You are who you eat with. That's the conclusion of researchers who studied borderline obese high school students. They found those who socialize with thinner people had a better chance of maintaining or losing weight. Those who hung out with obese friends had increased odds of gaining weight and were less likely to shed pounds.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): That kind of makes sense, right?

ROMANS: Yes. But it's still --

SAMBOLIN: It's like sharing somebody else's fries.

ROMANS: Right.

Double shadowed (ph) colors stretching across the Nevada sky after heavy rainstorm, the flooding this weekend. Beautiful.

BERMAN (voice-over): Double rainbow.

ROMANS: According to the National Weather Servicer, the double rainbow like this one forms when part of the ray of light that created the primary rainbow is reflected again along a different path. Take a close look. You'll see the colors of the secondary rainbow are reversed from the original rainbow.

SAMBOLIN: I love that. Very cool. I love it when you give us these beautiful pictures. We've got some beautiful pictures coming up also from NASA shortly.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): I never really understand what it all means, but I love looking at the pictures.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS (on-camera): You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: So, Rob Marciano is off today. Alexandria Steele is joining us for today's weather. Good morning to you.

ALEXANDRIA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning to you, guys. Good morning to you, John. Well, you know, it's all about sun with the rainbow. The sun is a low angle, the sun at your back, and the sunrays hitting the rain drops. So, we've seen a lot of them certainly here in the south this summer.

All right. Well, of course, we have the sun today, and we've got the heat. No question about that. Here's where the really the access of the biggest heat will be today. Rapid City, Minneapolis, Green Bay, even into Chicago, temperatures once again between 90 and 100. Tomorrow, that access of heat moves into the east, especially the northeast.

Although today, we do have heat advisories for New York City, but Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore more 100-degree days on tap for you, in New York City and Washington, especially. Believe it or not, Washington has already had five times they've hit 100 degrees this year. Today's high temperature, Washington 95 today, staying in the 80s and low 90s. Chicago, 96, Kansas City, 97, but you can see where the swath of heat is. Minneapolis, this is definitely going to go down the record books for the twin cities this summer. Highs tomorrow, you can see Washington gets to 101 and you can see where the heat is. But then, this is kind of a short lived affair, othing like what we've been dealing with.

Cold front will move through, dry things out and cool things down for Thursday and Friday. A whole different picture than the heat of what we're seeing at the beginning of the week. In terms of the flood threat to the west, heavy rain is expected. Strong storms, wind gusts, even lightning expected to the west today as another storm moves in.

So, we've got weather across the country, no question about that. But the heat really, guys, the biggest story once again in the northeast through much of the plains.

SAMBOLIN: Well, at least, it's not going to stick around very long. Thank you, Alexandria.

STEELE: that's right.

SAMBOLIN: We appreciate it.

Bruce Springsteen might be "The Boss," but he had no control over what happened near the end of a concert over the weekend. What happened that left some fans hanging? That's coming up.

And listen to this, if you're leaving the house right now, you don't have to fret. You can watch us anytime.

BERMAN (on-camera): Don't fret. Don't fret.


SAMBOLIN: -- perhaps, on your mobile phone. Just go to Take us with you.


BERMAN: All right. There she is, Atlanta, down in Georgia. Any big company based there? I'm learning.



BERMAN: I'm trying to learn. I'm just trying to --

SAMBOLIN: That is not good, Mr. Berman.

BERMAN: It is 72 degrees down there right now. It's going to be 92 with thunderstorms later including a lightning bolt that may strike me for saying that. SAMBOLIN: Yes. That's tough for this big hub over there. So, maybe a lot of delayed flights. Make sure you check on that before you travel today.

BERMAN: It's time for a look at what's trending this morning. Bruce Springsteen known as "The Boss," in London, they kind of showed him who really is the boss.




BERMAN: The variety (ph) here is getting down, but in London, what happened was they pulled the plug. Bruce Springsteen was jamming with Paul McCartney. That's Sir Paul McCartney.


BERMAN: And then you won't believe this "but." They pulled the plug on the show because it had all gone on for three hours and it gone past curfew. And I guess in London, you go past curfew, they pull the plug even if you are the boss and Sir Paul McCartney.

SAMBOLIN: What? Was there an uproar?

BERMAN: I'm in sense (ph). I'm outraged. There's an uproar here this morning if there was no uproar there. It happened right in the middle of twist and shout. It was bad, bad, I tell you.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible. All right. Well, I guess, you've got to keep the curfew, huh?

BERMAN: Absolutely. Don't mess around with the curfew in London.

SAMBOLIN: I know -- so we have some really incredible video. I was telling you about this earlier. It's from NASA. It's the latest pictures of a solar flare. This is time released -- time lapsed video. So, here's what I want to tell you about this, because I thought this was great.

(INAUDIBLE) this is how they described it. Dramatic photos from NASA showing our mighty sun having a mild hissy fit.

BERMAN: Mighty sun.


SAMBOLIN: So, this apparently started Thursday, July 12th. They're finally releasing this time lapsed video. They say don't worry about this. This is called -- it's rated an X1.4. You know what that means, right?

BERMAN: Slightly more than the X1.3. SAMBOLIN: Yes. And it's barely within the extreme range, so it's not expected to cause any problems like damage to electronics equipment. So, just enjoy the video because nothing terrible should be happening.

BERMAN: I'll be wearing my tinfoil hat later today and putting it on.

Now, you have to check out this video in China. A group of people you might say laying down on the job quite literally. The source here is China's PPTV. And what you're looking at is a human mattress domino chain. A very important world record. A really crucial world record, 1001 in of these mattresses in Shanghai, this domino chain.

And by the way, it beats an American record that was about 850 that was said a year ago. This record, by the way, they've only been doing this for about two years. It started in China. There are rules to this. You have to be touching the mattress when it falls. You know, I'm very impressed by them. World record. The hats off to them for this.


BERMAN: Why not?


BERMAN: That's why. I think that's it. You have a mattress, you want to fall over.

SAMBOLIN: It was really smacking them across the face. Did you look the video?

BERMAN: Luckily, there were no injuries. I don't know that for the sure, but there are mattresses there. So, I assume they were all safe.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-four minutes past the hour. People who were there say it sounded like a bomb went off. A lightning strike on a Texas soccer field. Coming up, the latest on the casualties. You're watching EARLY START.



BERMAN (voice-over): Kidnapped in Egypt. Negotiators work to try to free two Americans abducted while traveling with a church group.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It is a desperate search in Iowa. Two young girls disappear after a bike ride near a lake.

BERMAN: News of the Lin-sane. NBA sensation, Jeremy Lin, could be leaving New York for a new address next season.

SAMBOLIN: What will I do with my T-shirt?

BERMAN: That's going to be a big news here. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm the new guy, John Berman.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): We're happy to have you here, Mr. Berman. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thank you for being with us. It's 6:00 a.m. in the east, so let's get started here.

Increased security in Egypt Sinai region this morning as two Americans and their Egyptian translator remain hostages in the dessert. The U.S state department is working with the Egyptian government to free them as soon as possible, they say.

And new reports that the Rev. Michel Louis (ph) offered himself as a hostage to spare his parishioners when a man ambushed their tour bus Friday. The hostage taker told an Egyptian newspaper that unless his uncle is freed from prison in the Alexandria, he'll take more hostages or do something worse.

His children join me now, Rev. Jean Louis, Daniel Louis, Nathaniel Louis, and Deborah Louis. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it. Pastor Louis, I'm going to start with you. Is it true, do you know, that your dad offered himself up as a hostage?

REV. JEAN LOUIS, SON OF KIDNAPPED U.S. PASTOR, MICHEL LOUIS: Good morning, Zoraida. It's a pleasure to be with you again this morning. And, we just want to be very, very clear. We don't want to make a spectacle out of anything. But we also are like I told you before Christians and we were not -- we don't lie. We're not supposed to lie. We're supposed to set examples.

I didn't want to discuss and didn't want to give details in regards to it, and I know the story is out there. I want to tell you the truth as it is -- as it was given to me by my mother when I spoke to her the day of the kidnapping. And the story is consistent with what you said. The gunmen did get onto the tour bus and their initial reaction or their initial steps were to take the member - the female member that is also detained with my father as hostage. And being the leader and not only the leader of the missionary group - my mom said that, you know, he stood up and asked that they leave the lady and take him. So this is why they're two people that are, in addition to the translator, that is detained right now somewhere in Egypt. So this is what the story is -

SAMBOLIN: I don't mean to interrupt you but the kidnapper is communicating quite a bit. And we understand that there are some conversations that have happened. Did your mother speak to the kidnapper? Was she able to speak to your father?

LOUIS: I'm glad to you addressed that with us this morning. There's a lot of reports saying that gunman allowed both my father and this other lady to contact their relatives and loved ones. To my knowledge, because I speak to my mom as much as I can as much as they allow us to keep contact with her, those stories are false. Those stories are false. She has not spoken to her husband since 2pm Egyptian time. Since the incident.

SAMBOLIN: Let's talk about your dad's health. We know he's diabetic and somebody said that perhaps he suffered a diabetic seizure while he was there with the kidnappers. Does he have his medication with him do you know?

LOUIS: Again, based on the story that I heard from my mom everything happened so quickly - I remember he clearly telling me on a Friday that one of her concerns were that he didn't even have shoes on when they took him off the bus. He doesn't have any of the natural medication that he takes. I don't know of anything about a seizure. We don't know any information in regards to my father as of 2pm of the incident on Friday.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to address all of you here. Feel free to chime in. You know, this is the third kidnapping that happened in Egypt of Americans. The other ones have been released unharmed. How worried are you that your father is going to be harmed?

LOUIS: Again, we speak to a lot of good people, some effective -- we have some people that are elected officials that work on the staff of the elected officials that are telling us that, you know, to be in good spirits.

We're confident not only in the -- in the government of the United States and the people that are doing the negotiating. We're also very confident in the God that we serve. This is the reason why we are not -- you know, the description says we're pressed down but not defeated.

SAMBOLIN: It's nice to hear that your faith is so strong. That is very nice to hear.

LOUIS: We have to. We have to and Zoraida, we have a lot of people of faith rallying behind us, calling us, giving us a lot of support. The reason why my brothers and sisters, they choose not to speak, not that I can articulate better than them is because, you know, you can understand there's a lot of emotion.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

LOUIS: Tied to all of this. So I seem to be better controlled and trying to express what we want to say.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I really -- I appreciate your time this morning. I just came back from that region and I have to tell you, I felt very safe. The people were very good.

I'm very sorry about what happened to your father and I'm hoping that just like the other prisoners we've had that he will be released and the other two will be released unharmed. So our prayers are also with you.

We appreciate you joining us this morning, Jean, Daniel, Nathaniel and Debra. Thank you very much.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The family showing really, really impressive strength in what's got to be a really difficult time.

SAMBOLIN: Faith is something, isn't it?

BERMAN: It can make a big difference.


BERMAN: All right, Hillary Clinton had her own problems in Egypt, protesters throwing shoes and tomatoes at the secretary of state's motorcade yesterday after she spoke in Alexandria.

An Egyptian was hit in the face with a tomato, but Mrs. Clinton was never in danger we're told. A short time ago, she was in Israel where she met with the Israeli President Shimon Peres.

She didn't take questions about the kidnapping in Egypt or the threat she faced, instead calling this a time of opportunity for all Middle East nations.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goals of security, stability, peace and democracy. Along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.


BERMAN: Secretary Clinton says she will answer questions this evening after she meets with other Israeli leaders.

SAMBOLIN: Violent storms moving through Texas. They turned deadly. Two people were killed in a lightning strike. This was a soccer complex in Houston on Sunday.

A third person was injured and remains hospitalized. Authorities say the three soccer players decided to take cover under a tree when that bad weather rolled in. Police also say when the lightning struck it sounded like a bomb went off.

BERMAN: The search resumes this morning for two missing girls in Iowa. The 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyra Cook disappeared last Friday.

They were last seen going on a bike ride near a lake in Evansville, Iowa. Hundreds of volunteers joined the research over the weekend. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information in this case.

SAMBOLIN: Poor parents there. Council members in Walnut City, California are considering a proposal that would require all of their proceedings to be conducted in English.

And non-English speaking members would be required to bring their own translators. Nearly two-thirds of Walnut's residents and three of the five of council members are Asian. A vote on the measure is scheduled for July 25th.

BERMAN: Lin sanity apparently leaving the big apple for the lone star state. In this case, it will be the Linstar state. I'm going to keep telling that joke until you laugh. There we go. There's the laugh I was looking I was looking.

SAMBOLIN: I didn't catch it before. I'm sorry.

BERMAN: Finally, the New York Knicks have until midnight tomorrow to match the Houston Rockets three-year, $25 million offer to Jeremy Lin, a lot of money.

It doesn't look like the Knicks are going to do it because in the third year of the deal, it's worth about $15 million, calling it a poison pill for the Knicks and trigger the luxury tax. Even the Knicks and even in New York they may not be able to afford it.

SAMBOLIN: When he arrived here, wasn't he sleeping on somebody's couch?

BERMAN: Yes, sleeping on somebody's couch, you know, he was cut by the Houston Rockets last year. This is the guy who was cut by the Rockets and now he may get $25 million to go back and play there.


BERMAN: Times change.

SAMBOLIN: That's kind of sweet revenge. All right, President Obama not backing down today. He's offering no apology for attacking Mitt Romney over his time at a private equity firm.

You know, the question is, are those attacks working? We have more live from Washington that's coming up.