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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Americans Kidnapped In Egypt; Clinton Motorcade Pelted In Egypt; Lightning Strike Kills Two In Houston; Search For Missing Iowa Girls; "English Only" Proposal In Walnut City; "Lin Sanity" In The Lone Star State?; Obama: No Apologies For Bain Attacks On Romney; New Forecast on Housing Slump; Americans Kidnapped in Egypt; Sage Stallone Autopsy; NBA Star Arrested; The Best Advice

Aired July 16, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back to EARLY START. President Obama returns to Ohio today, his eighth trip to that crucial battleground state.

He will hold a town hall meeting in Cincinnati where he'll continue the campaign offensive against Mitt Romney. The president says attacks over Romney's history at Bain Capital are fame game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: 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 entirely legitimately want to know, what exactly was that business experience?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Our political reporter Peter Hamby joins me now from Washington. Peter, obviously the president and his campaign team seem to think these attacks are working. What are the Republicans telling you?

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, John. I was in Williamsburg, Virginia this weekend actually at the National Governors Association meeting. They meet every year and I talked to a bunch of Republicans about this.

Publically, a lot of Republicans especially high ranking Republicans are falling in line here and parroting the Romney line, which is that, you know, when it comes to Bain, when it comes to Romney's tax returns, the Obama campaign is trying distract from the economy.

But privately a lot of Republicans say this is a problem and it is starting to catch and it's spilling over publically too. Bill Crystal, "The Weekly Standard" columnist called on Romney to release, you know, eight years of tax returns today.

We'll see if that actually happens. I don't think it will, but I was e-mailing with the top Republican yesterday who was saying Romney should have dealt this with back in January when he was getting hit on it from New Gingrich and Rick Perry.

But the Obama campaign is certainly keeping their foot on the gas. Check out this tough new ad they popped this weekend hitting Romney over Bain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Beautiful for spacious skies -- for every purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMBY: So that's taking aim at some of the outsourcing that Bain did and some of Romney's offshore bank accounts. Even Republicans that have seen that ad say it's a pretty tough ad.

You know, they might be a little scared of it now, John. And the Obama campaign is going to keep up the pressure. Their spokesman today Ben Labolt just put out a memo asking more questions about Bain Capital. They are going to ride this as long as they can.

BERMAN: Obviously, Mitt Romney went out and spoke to all five networks on a Friday, which is unusual. He had surrogates out all weekend trying to clean this up, but maybe not that effective.

Ed Gillespie his senior adviser saying that Mitt Romney retired retroactively, which is sort of confusing words from Bain in 2002. How does the Romney team turn the page now finally?

HAMBY: Well, they are trying today to move on -- you know, they're trying to turn the page like you said. They're going to start today hitting Obama on sort of rewarding his political donors, accusing him as sort of political cronyism, taking aim at companies like Solyndra and Fisker, basically saying that these companies that the Obama campaign rewarded them with stimulus dollars but they are either closed, or they have shipped jobs overseas themselves. We'll see if that works.

Obviously, Solyndra has been a talking point for the Romney campaign for a while. It's not exactly a fresh thing. And the tax returns and Bain has really snowballed to a point that it's going to be tough to turn the page, at least for the next few days, John.

BERMAN: All right. Peter Hamby, get back to those phones and make more calls. Nice to see you this morning.

HAMBY: Thanks.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Fifteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And good morning you two. According to the State Department, 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 those captives, 61-year-old Boston pastor Michel Louis. He's a diabetic. It's not clear if he has his medication. The kidnapper is demanding the release of a jailed uncle.

Difficult wildfire in a steep canyon and is threatening dozens of homes in northern California. 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 and this fire is just 20 percent contained. Nearly 2,000 firefighters and California National Guard are trying to put it out right now.

The Tour de France turning into the tour de tacks after someone placed a series of tacks along the race route. Around 30 competitors in the main path blew flat, one rider crashed. Race officials, they are asking French police to investigate who did this, who would place tacks along this famous course?

SAMBOLIN: That is not funny.

ROMANS: No, it is not funny and it's awfully, awfully dangerous.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour.

Meet a man who creates brand-new worlds through a magical marriage of art and technology. Scott Snibbe designed a way to put the cosmos in the palm of your hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT SNIBBE, MEDIA ARTIST: Before the iPad, I joked that I made useless programs -- but they are as useless as a song, movie or story, something like that. And all of a sudden with the iPad, I could just go directly to people and say, check this thing out. It doesn't even -- we don't have to label what it is. It's just called Gravilux. It's called Bubble Harp. See, if you like it and all of a sudden, they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So to find out more about Scott Snibbe and his interactive worlds of wonder, tune into "THE NEXT LIST" this Sunday, July 22nd at 2:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

BERMAN: That's plain cool.

All right. We've seen some positive signs in the housing market. That's cool also. And fewer homeowners are under water on their mortgages. Coming up, what that could mean for recovery in the long run. And for an extended look at the top stories, head to our blog at CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: A recovery?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-one minutes past the hour. We are minding your business this morning. New data shows that in the first quarter of 2012, significantly fewer homeowners are under water on their mortgages than the last three months of 2011, dropping from 12.1 million to 11.4 million.

BERMAN: That's the good news. The not so good news, a report out from "Bloomberg Government" says this and other recent upticks in the housing may not last and we're still few years away from a full recovery.

So, the news, half good/half bad.

Christine Romans is here with much more -- Christine.

ROMANS: This is what a bottom feels like quite frankly -- ooh, that actually sounded weird.

BERMAN: Staying silent on that one. Let's just deal.

ROMANS: Welcome, John.

This is what it feels like when a market is skidding along the bottom. It starts to be very rough. If you have a job and you have a house and you're paying the bills, you're holding on for dear life. If you don't, you could still be under water.

With me now is Nela Richardson, economic analyst with "Bloomberg Government" and co-author of this really interesting report about what we have to do to see a meaningful recovery.

Welcome.

NELA RICHARDSON, BLOOMBERG GOVERNMENT: Thank you for having me. Good to be with you.

ROMANS: You name seven things we need to see, seven signs of a housing rebound. We're going to put them on the screen. I want you to tell me how far are we from a real rebound in housing?

RICHARDSON: Well, that's a great question. I think there's been this preoccupation of whether housing has reached bottom. But what we really should be concerned about are the signs of recovery.

The first is, have house prices stabilized? We've seen some good news in recent months in the first quarter. But how much of that was just because we had really great weather and people started looking for houses again. We actually think that prices are going to decline through to 2012 nationally and into 2013. ROMANS: And on the houses -- we can talk a little bit. We have a chart of that, you know, home prices, even as home sales were picking up, prices were still declining, I think because people had to move on. You know, you got a new job, you're trying to move to a new place. I mean, there's enough time that's passed since the bubble burst and you can see that burst there.

Thirty-three percent was taken off home prices in this country. So, you see they could continue to go down a little bit from here?

RICHARDSON: They could. And you make a very good point about mobility. Mobility and housing are tied together. People need to be able to move where jobs are when we have such high unemployment rates.

Unfortunately, if you can't sell your house, you may not move to where the job is.

ROMANS: And this is where I go back, if you have savings and a job, you're more likely to take the hit on the house and keep moving and that's where you're seeing sales pick up if people took a little bit of a price hit because they have to keep going.

Lending standards, meanwhile, I keep talking about these super low mortgage interest rates. Every week, I come out here and I say, the one thing you need to know today is mortgage rates have never been cheaper. But it's harder to get those loans. Every time I talk about mortgage rates, people tell me, yes, but I wish I could get one of those low rates.

What's the situation with mortgage rates and the available of those very low rates?

RICHARDSON: Christine, from the first time since 1950, people are paying back more on their mortgages than banks are lending. In the past four years, only one quarter were banks lending more than people were paying back. And they're not just paying it back through their mortgage payments, they're paying it back through foreclosing on properties and short selling.

The mortgage markets are frozen. Banks are a little gun-shy. They don't want to lend when they think house prices may be falling. And so, until banks regain their confidence in the housing market, they're going to require huge requirements in terms of down payment, credit scores in order to make a mortgage.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: You're seeing like 20 percent down, right, and definitely 720, 750 higher credit scores.

RICHARDSON: The national average, according to some data, was 736 for a FICO score. That's compared to 680 before the housing boom. So, there's been a huge tightening in standards by banks to get a mortgage.

ROMANS: All right. Nela Richardson, senior analyst "Bloomberg Government" nice to talk to you. Fascinating, fascinating report.

And it brings me back to the one thing you need to know about your money today. If you have a job and you have savings, you're moving ahead in this economy. If you don't have a job or savings or booth, it still feels like the recession and days after the recession.

So, that's -- I feel like we're separating into two different camps here. People who are moving ahead, who are looking at numbers like this and saying, I see opportunity in these numbers and the other people are saying, this is just the same.

BERMAN: Because you don't have money, can't get a loan and the low interest rates don't mean a thing.

ROMANS: And some lenders are asking for six months to a year of all of your expenses in the bank after you pay closing cost and after you paid everything plus a high credit score, because they want to make sure if you lose your job this year, you're still going to be able -- and also they are doing zip code. It depends on where you live. If there are a lot of people in your zip code who are having trouble paying your mortgage, they could ask for a higher credit score as well, or not give you a home equity line of the credit and the like.

SAMBOLIN: It's really tough. I'm going through this process right now, they scrutinize everything. Whatever they ask for you, must give them.

ROMANS: You're a real rule follower too. I could only imagine you have a good credit score.

SAMBOLIN: I was surprised how good it wasn't according to the standards now. So --

ROMANS: Interesting.

SAMBOLIN: Cumulative. Thank you, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour, the secret is out about the notoriously secretive North Korean government.

BERMAN: Really?

SAMBOLIN: There's been a big shake-up of leadership near the top. We have all of the details coming up.

And folks if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch any time on your desk top or mobile phone. Just don't go walk and watch. Go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Tense negotiations underway to free a Boston pastor and another American being held captive in Egypt. BERMAN: So, when did Mitt Romney really leave the private equity firm Bain Capital? A top adviser tries to put the controversy to rest once and for all.

SAMBOLIN: A man who refused to run for president now turning down a chance at another leadership role. The latest on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- what did he decline to do now? That's coming up.

BERMAN: You'll have to wait to see.

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

It's 31 minutes past the hour. Made it this far.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

And up first here, authorities in Egypt trying to negotiate the release of two kidnapped Americans. And time may be scarce, because once of the kidnapped victims, Boston pastor Michel Louis, is diabetic. And his family is not sure he has medication in his possession.

Mohamed Fahmy is joining us by phone from Sinai, Egypt, right now.

And, Mohamed, we spoke to the family earlier and they are very concerned, as one could expect. And very prayerful this is all going to end peacefully.

What are you hearing about the latest on the negotiations?

MOHAMED FAHMY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I just got off the phone with the general involved in the negotiations and he confirmed to me they had visited the hostages on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, he also mentioned that Pastor Michel suffered a diabetic attack. That's how he described it.

But he got his medicine from the kidnapper himself, who sent one of his men to the pharmacy.

The other hostages are well. Everybody is well fed and safe according to the general.

As for the negotiation, it appears to be sort of a stalemate at the moment. The kidnapper wants his relatives released from prison on drug charges where he claims falsely incarcerated. At the same time, the government here does not want to give into his demands. They say if they do that, every Bedouin is going to kidnap tourists and the situation is going to get out of control.

SAMBOLIN: We also heard earlier that the kidnapper said unless his uncle is released, that he will either take more hostages or perhaps do something worse. What have you heard about that?

FAHMY: That is correct. The kidnapper is very dangerous. He's a wanted fugitive.

He has threatened if his uncle is not released, he will kidnap more tourists and he is maneuvering around the Israeli-Egyptian border which makes it harder for the authorities to deal with him especially because of the Camp David Accord that limit the access to the area in terms of deploying more soldiers and heavy machinery. He's using cell phone, Israeli cell phones, and he's moving the hostages around so the situation is not as simple as expected.

SAMBOLIN: This do something worse is very concerning because this is the third time that Americans have been kidnapped and typically they are released. Is there a different concern in this situation?

FAHMY: Well, in the past year, there's been at least half a dozen kidnapped and all of the hostages were released unharmed, including Americans kidnapped in February and May. This time around, it seems a little bit more complicated but the kidnapper was interviewed by phone on local channel and he mentioned that he does not have any intentions of hurting the hostages and that they are safe, that they are well fed. But he also is very keen that the authorities release his uncle.

Speaking to the general, he mentioned that when he spoke to the kidnapper, he said, if my uncle stays in there for 15 days, the hostage will stay with my for 15 days. So, it seems that he's very, very stubborn at the moment. But we're following the story closely as it happens and we'll be coming to you with more details as the story progresses.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Mohamed Fahmy, we really appreciate you spending some time with us this morning. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: And staying overseas now. North Korea' top military chief has been relieved of his post. Government news reports say Ri Yong Ho is ill, but there are no other details. Ri is 70 and a close ally of new leader Kim Jung-un. No word on a possible replacement.

SAMBOLIN: Mitt Romney's top adviser claimed his candidate actually retired as head of Bain Capital retroactively, once the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics started. Ed Gillespie telling CNN's Candy Crowley, Romney took a leave of absence to rescue the games and never returned to Bain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED GILLESPIE, SR. ADVISER TO MITT ROMNEY: He was not involved in the management and was not involved in the day-to-day decisions and wouldn't have had time. He left a life he loved to go to Salt Lake City to save the Olympics for a country he loves more and somehow Chicago and classic Chicago style politics of the Obama is trying to make this something sinister. It's not. It's patriotic and it's leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The Obama campaign has accused Romney of lying after the "Boston Globe" reported he retained a title of chief executive and chairman of Bain Capital until 2002. Three years beyond the date he claims he relinquished control.

BERMAN: There's been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney's possible running mate. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says no, not to that, but to an influential position on the National Governors Association. The rising star of the Republican Party 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 necessary time to perform the role properly.

And with the London Olympics just days away, the British government is calling for reinforcements. We're going to go live to London where the largest domestic security mobilization since World War II is under way as we speak. That's coming up.

BERMAN: It's big.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: There are new concerns about security in London for the Summer Olympics set to start in just 11 days, thousands of military personnel had to be called in virtually at the last minute.

CNN senior correspondent Dan Rivers joins us live now from London.

Dan, this date has been on calendar for a long time. It's been circled on this calendar for a year. So, why the sudden change in plans?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this all comes down to the private security firm that won the contract to guard many of the Olympic sites, G4S. Now, they were originally asked to provide 2,000 guards and then last December, that was upped to 10,000 guards. They reassured the government, look -- and the Olympic organizers, look, no problem, we can do this.

Then the home office is telling us here, the interior ministry is saying only last Wednesday did G4S comes and says, actually, we can't get that number of people because of a computer glitch which means the guys that we've recruited were not sure if they've received the right training, we're not sure if we can contact them in time. The whole thing is a shambles.

So, now, the army have stepped in, providing 3,500 extra soldiers, on top of 10,500 that were already being involved with guarding Olympic sites to fill the breach as it were.

It is a bit of a fiasco to put it mildly. But the government are pushing back and saying they only knew about this on Wednesday, laying the blame firmly on the door step of G4S, their chief executive has come out over the weekend basically holding up his hands and saying it is a disappoint. Their share price is tanking. It's down 6 percent again today after a big fall last week.

So, they are getting hammered by the markets here. They are used to providing services to the government. This is probably one of the highest profile things they had to do, and by the looks of things, they dropped the ball to put it mildly.

BERMAN: Unsettling this is happening so late. Also unsettling, some reports overnight from London papers that suspects on a terror watch list somehow got through at Heathrow airport. But, Dan, you've been checking into this. What have you heard?

RIVERS: Well, reporter: the home office here are pushing back on this report. They are saying yes, they have got extra staff on the front desks when you come into Heathrow where they check your passport and, yes, it's true. Some of those staff are not normally border force guards, that they're retired policeman and so on -- extra people that are being drafted in.

But they are insisting that all of the checks that need to be done are being done. They are describing it as risible, the idea that there are as sort of half a dozen bearded Islamic terrorists that have been leaked (ph) in the last week are running around and ready to blow up the Olympics. They are saying that is simply not true and they're pointing to an independent inspector of the border force who said he's completely satisfied that all of the tests and checks that should be done are being done.

BERMAN: All right. Dan Rivers in London, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: And Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: So much. So much. Welcome to you, nice to have you joining us in the morning team.

BERMAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Lots happening, you guys have been talking all morning about this American tourists who are kidnapped at gun point in Egypt. Egyptian officials are trying to negotiate their release right now. The kidnappers are threatening to kill the captives.

This morning, we talked to the children of one of the hostages. That's going to happen live.

Also, is it an illustrious symbol of an amazing legacy or is it a symbol of shame in the wake of that damning Penn State report? Should the school tear down that huge, 900-pound bronze statue of Joe Paterno, which is right outside the football stadium? That is our "Tough Call" this morning.

Plus, smashing the pedal to the metal. Have you seen these pictures? This is amazing. This is Ken Block, he's a competitive stunt driver.

BERMAN: Is that real?

O'BRIEN: Yes. He's ripping through the streets of San Francisco in "Gymkhana" -- amazing. Amazing. Goes on for 10 minutes like this. It is a craziest thing I've ever seen, filming the whole thing.

We're going to talk to him as he comes in live in the studio to discuss --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You might want to watch the rest of this first, I would say no, don't try it.

And then here's a brilliant idea and I say that completely sarcastically. It's so-called easy parking spots just for women.

BERMAN: What?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I knew you would get mad at this. It's our get real this morning. Yes, we're outrage.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: All of that and much more this morning on "STARTING POINT." We'll see you 15 minutes from now.

So, you don't even know the story and you're like, it's so wrong.

BERMAN: We'll let you guys work this one out. It seems like a good one to stay out of, especially on my first day on the job here.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I'm told there are a few things you should not do the first day of your job, disagree with Zoraida and Soledad here. Another one of them, which I actually did not do -- getting arrested. One NBA star learning that the hard way, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Washington, D.C. Time to get up, get moving, get underway. Seventy-six degrees right now so you're going to enjoy the weather. A little bit later, 95, perhaps a little muggy for you but it's not going to last. We were talking to Alexandra Steele earlier and she said it's hot now but it's going to get better.

BERMAN: Thank goodness.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: It's 48 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

Good morning.

ROMANS: And good morning to both of you again.

The State Department confirms authorities in Egypt are negotiating -- attempting to negotiate the release of two Americans who were kidnapped on the Sinai Peninsula Friday. There are concerns about the health of one of those hostages. Sixty-one-year-old Boston pastor, Michel Louis. He's a diabetic and it's not clear if he has his medication with him. The kidnapper is demanding the release of a jailed uncle.

Stop whatever you're doing, check out this amazing video of a landslide that's caught on camera in British Columbia. Knocking down trees and wiping everything --

BERMAN: Wow. Crazy.

ROMANS: -- else in its path. You know, a news crew captured this real time footage. They were on a boat --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Happened to be stopping by?

ROMANS: Well, they were documenting the aftermath of another landslide that wiped out three homes last week. Rescue crews said they found the body of one of four people missing in that landslide.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

ROMANS: And officials sadly, they fear the other three people missing are also dead.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible.

ROMANS: The Department of Homeland Security giving Florida access to a federal law enforcement data base to challenge voter eligibility. This data base contains alien registration numbers. Florida officials had sued to get this information in an effort to purge nonvoters, noncitizens from its voting rolls.

The legal rambling has been closely watched in several other swing states looking for similar access to that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: So it'll be another six to eight weeks before authorities can determine exactly what caused the death of Sylvester Stallone's eldest son, Sage. The L.A. County coroner conducted an autopsy Sunday and they're waiting the result of toxicology tests. The 36-year-old Stallone was found dead Friday in his Hollywood home.

BERMAN: NBA star Jason Kidd is in trouble with the law here in New York. Just days after signing a contract with the New York Knicks, Kidd was arrested for driving while intoxicated after smashing his SUV into a telephone pole in the Hamptons. Kidd has also played for the New Jersey Nets and the Dallas Mavericks.

SAMBOLIN: He's always in trouble.

So it's a London 2012 Olympic Games just around the corner. Some of the world's most gifted performers have arrived in the capital from Brooklyn, New York. Check out the Streb Extreme Action dancers, shimmying down some famous landmarks.

BERMAN: I can do that. I mean who can't do that? I saw you do that act before.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to put you to the test actually. One of our landmarks here, some dance, acrobatics, some stunts. Holy cow.

BERMAN: All right. Now a quick look at your travel forecast with Alexandra Steele.

Alexandra, what's it look like today?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, well, another torrid hot day around the country, especially around the plains. Excessive heat watches from Rapid City to Kansas City to Minneapolis, all the way to Chicago, highs today between 90 and 100 degrees.

Also, we're going to see heat advisories in New York today and tomorrow. In the northeast tomorrow really the hottest of the hot. And then we will see a cool-down. But Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Baltimore, Washington, Washington has already had five 100-degree days thus far this year. Could see another one tomorrow.

Ninety-five today, you can see in the 90s in the Eastern Seaboard, around the Great Lakes, the Twin Cities, 99, 97 in Kansas City. Wichita, a whole week with temperatures right around 100 degrees.

Highs for tomorrow, you can see where the access of the heat moves into the mid-Atlantic, just a scorcher in Baltimore and Washington tomorrow. Still you could see through Kansas temperatures around 99 degrees, so the heat through much of the midsection and east but then again, cold front coming in Thursday and Friday cools it down. So it's kind of a two-day affair for two-thirds of the country.

Flood threat, though, we've got fire and we've got rain in the west. Heavy rains, strong storms, even some frequent lightning. We've seen that a lot. We'll continue to see it. Here's where the fire and the water is. Of course all the fires and the heavy rains, potential for flash flooding as well. So a lot going on in the weather books today but again, boy, a steamy summer for so many and really just typical July in a drought or in a really severe drought for 2012 and also of course with the heat and the late-day thunderstorms, it's kind of the recipe for what we're seeing for so much of the summer.

BERMAN: But hang on for a few days it'll get cool here at the end of the week.

Thanks, Alexandra.

STEELE: Yes.

BERMAN: So much.

STEELE: Sure.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Up next, actor Levar Burton talks about the best advice that he has ever received. Hear what he had to say about passion. Yes, that's coming up right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. "STARTING POINT" is about a minute away.

SAMBOLIN: So we're going to wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." Here's Christine.

ROMANS: All right. This time, think wraparound glasses and rainbows. It's from actor Levar Burton. You'll remember him from "Reading Rainbow" and "Star Trek." Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEVAR BURTON, ACTOR: The best advice I've ever received has to be from my mother. She was my first teacher and among the many things that she taught me was that it is so important to do whatever it is you do, you have to do it with purpose and with passion, whether you are sweeping a floor or, you know, flying an airplane.

It doesn't matter what the activity is, you have to be wholly engaged in it. And that's advice that's really worked for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Now John Berman is new to the best advice every day, we close the show with this. And you could take it or leave it on our way to work but I will tell you that our unscientific survey of best advice is almost always from the mother.

BERMAN: I'm just going to --

ROMANS: You've got a lot of work to do.

BERMAN: I'm going to do --

ROMANS: You've got a lot of advice you're going to star giving.

BERMAN: I'm just going to do whatever Zoraida says.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Listen to Zoraida, do what she says and you'll have no problem.

SAMBOLIN: Whoever gave you that is genius. But I love -- I love his purpose and passion, right?

ROMANS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: I actually interviewed him for "Reading Rainbows" when he stopped by. And he is so passionate that he had to continue it. And you see it. He oozes --

ROMANS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: -- this passion for what he does, and you know? Who doesn't want to live like that?

ROMANS: It's cool --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I mean I grew up watching him on "Reading Rainbow."

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ROMANS: It really changed a lot of lives and made it cool to want to read and --

BERMAN: And (INAUDIBLE), he changed a lot of lives on "Star Trek," too.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Exactly. The little glasses.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So we made it. We made it through our first show.

SAMBOLIN: We did. Nicely done.

BERMAN: That's EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.