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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Refinery Fire Triggers Health Concerns; Holmes Sent Package To Psychiatrist; Sikh Temple Gunman Committed Suicide; Mars Crater Looks "Earth Like"; Feel The Historic Heat; End Of An Olympic Volleyball Era; Shakeup At Komen Foundation; Media Asks for Documents in Aurora Shooting Case; NYPD's "Domain Awareness System"

Aired August 9, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put this poison out here and killing us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I have to look forward to having cancer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does my grandchild have to look forward to having cancer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nickels and dimes that you pay us around here. No good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chevron officials are saying that they have been monitoring the air quality there in the area around the Chevron facility in Richmond, California and say they have found no problems so far, but they will continue to monitor it.

What does this mean for gas prices in the near future? Many analysts say that we have spoken say that we should probably continue to see gas prices continuing to climb up, especially along the west coast where it could easily reach over $4 a gallon in many places.

And then obviously for the rest of the country they expect to see that continue uptick for the next several weeks as well as gas prices continue to climb high.

A little bit of good news in all of this, Zoraida, is that several analysts we talked to as well say that as the demand starts to trail off here heading into the fall months.

That gas prices should continue to maybe will come back down, but for the time being we'll see them continue to go up at gas pumps across the country.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ed Lavandera live for us. Thank you very much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we could soon find out his mindset before the massacre. Aurora shooting suspect, James Holmes, is expected back in court this afternoon for a hearing on lifting parts of the gag order in the case.

Public defense lawyers want investigators to hand over documents and a key package that Holmes sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado.

That package was seized by authorities under a search warrant last week. The defense says it is privileged doctor/patient communication. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 58 others at a midnight screening of the "Dark Knight Rises."

Coming up in about 25 minutes, we're going to talk with Liza Wayne. She is a criminal defense attorney and a former public defender about what we should expect to happen in the hearing in court today.

SAMBOLIN: Turns out the final shot fired by Sikh temple gunman, Wade Paige, went into his own head. The FBI says surveillance video confirms Page committed suicide after being wounded in the stomach by a hero police officer on Sunday. Page killed six people, wounded three others before taking his own life.

HARLOW: The Martian creator where NASA's "Curiosity" rover landed looks a whole lot like earth. Actually, a California scientist compares some early pictures that are coming back to us of the crater to the Mojave Desert.

Both are said to have looming mountains and lingering hays. The "Curiosity" successfully and memorably touched down on Mars Sunday night. Look at all those guys cheering. Such a success for them and so neat what we're seeing.

SAMBOLIN: All right, the heat is definitely on this summer. You have been feeling it. July burned up the record books. It was the hottest on record.

Meteorologist Alexandria Steele is in Atlanta with more on the historic highs and it goes pretty, way, way back.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Way back, as far as records have been going, since 1895 so even surpassing the famous dust bowl era of the '30s. This July had been the hottest for the lower 48 as aggregate, but now since 1895, this July around the country certainly has been the hottest.

So what about the next few months as we head into fall? Looking at the computer models through October, temperatures for the balance of the country look to be above average continuing, but here is some good news.

It has been incredibly hot, especially the upper Midwest. Finally today, we've got a heat breaker, not a heartbreaker, a heat breaker, but it will come with a price and that price is some severe storms.

So temperatures, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan 10 degrees below average so they've running 15 degrees to 20 degrees above average, and finally, it cools down but again coming at a price.

So if you're traveling through Indianapolis, we have a flood advisory through 8:00 this morning and strong storms expected there and believe it or not in the middle of the country, we could see about an inch, inch and a half of rain and not going to do anything for the corn.

But certainly could settle the dust a little bit. That is the big picture. Of course, we've been watching the tropics as well. Ernesto made one landfall in Mexico, expectation for it to make a second one tonight or tomorrow.

But believe it or not, all eyes on the Atlantic, what we could see Tropical Storm Gordon potentially, the hurricane center giving this a 70 percent chance, guys, of becoming a tropical cyclone so Gordon maybe the next name on your list since we move from Ernesto.

HARLOW: Well, thanks so much. I appreciate it. An emotional and historic day at the beach, Olympic beach volleyball team Misty May- Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings already have two gold medals, they just added a third.

They are elated. They beat Jennifer Casey and April Ross yesterday in an all American women's beach volleyball final. The win was bittersweet and marked the end of an era. It was May Treanor and Walsh Jennings last match together.

SAMBOLIN: That all American beach volleyball final along with solid track and field showings have pushed the U.S. past China in total medals 81 to 77. China still leads in gold, however, 36-34. Russia is in third with 52 total medals.

Lots of drama in store today as the U.S. and Japan face off in the women's soccer finals and also today the men's 200 meter final. Some other big events on tap include women's platform diving.

Poppy's favorite, and the men's beach volleyball final, which everybody around here seems to love.

HARLOW: You love beach volleyball.

SAMBOLIN: I am not a fan. But, you know, I watched yesterday because that was history in the making. I wanted to witness that. It was incredible.

HARLOW: It was. It was. Good for them.

A major shakeup at the nation's largest breast cancer foundation this morning, two executives at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure out of their post. We're going to talk about the politics behind it with the reporter who first broke the story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: It is 9 minutes after the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Glad you're with us this morning. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest breast cancer foundation announced a major shakeup with several of its top administrators following months of public outcry over its attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

That was earlier this year. The organization says that its president, Liz Thompson, will resign next month and founder, Nancy Bricker, will leave her role as CEO to focus on fundraising.

In response, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood issued a statement, and it reads, "The Komen funded Planned Parenthood programs have helped thousands of women in rural and underserved communities get breast health education, screenings, and referrals for mammograms. We are proud to continue this work together."

So we're joined now by Laura Bassett, political reporter with "The Huffington Post," who broke the details behind the Planned Parenthood controversy back in February. So this was back in February when all of this started to happen. Why the resignation now?

LAURA BASSETT, POLITICAL REPORTER, "HUFFINGTON POST": I think there has been a lot of pressure internally for this to happen. It first when the whole thing went down it was external pressure, people coming on the web site, people stopping donations.

I think race participation went down 30 percent. But this latest slew of resignations and just power shakeup in general is coming from the presidents of the affiliates who have been pressuring Brinker and Thompson for months to step down.

SAMBOLIN: So Brinker is stepping down, but she is not walking away. She says she is going to now focus on fundraising. What will her role be? Do you -- you've really spent a lot of time in the story, do you think it will help?

BASSETT: I think it will help. I think this is exactly what people were calling for. They just wanted -- they just wanted a power shakeup. You know, Karen Handell took the majority of the heat for what happened in February.

But I think people on the inside knew that Nancy Bricker had a lot to do with it and that Liz Thompson also a lot to do with and they weren't satisfied with just the resignation of Karen Handell.

So I think Brinker stepping into a different role is very symbolic. Regardless, of whether her duties are different or not, it shows that Komen is very sorry about what they did and they're ready to start a new path.

SAMBOLIN: Again, essentially that is what she said we're ready to move forward. Now we saw that Planned Parenthood is really standing behind them. They do really great work.

So do you think that they're going to be able to reconcile these issues and move forward and my other question, too, is I know that they've lost 30 percent in the race. But has it been across the board where they have lost funding for their programs? BASSETT: It hasn't been across the board. It has been spotty. In some places the funding is up and in some places it's been down. I think that they will continue their partnership with Planned Parenthood.

A lot of races are already particular affiliates are continuing to fund Planned Parenthood already. I think the real long-term problem that sort of a wait and see kind of thing is whether Komen's reputation has been permanently damaged over this.

SAMBOLIN: We certainly hope not because we do know that they have done some absolutely wonderful things for communities. I want to make sure that I say this.

This is according to Komen's statement bn Wednesday. It says the foundation has invested 1.3 billion in community programs over 30 years to pay for screenings, education and financial and psychological support for those who are fighting breast cancer.

So at the end of the day, we certainly wish them luck. Laura Bassett, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

BASSETT: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: It's 13 minutes after the hour. Let's get up to date on the morning's top stories.

Gas prices expected to surge across the U.S. after a fire at Chevron's Richmond, California plant earlier this week. The plant is partially shut down and it's one of the west coast's biggest suppliers.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, the first day in the murder trial for China's so-called Jackie Kennedy has adjourned. The wife of ousted communist official, Bo Shili, is accused of poisoning a British man in an attempt to save her son who prosecutors say was caught up in a money dispute. Experts say the case outcome could have major political significant.

HARLOW: Country singer Randy Travis is out on bail after troopers in Northern Texas allegedly found him lying naked on a remote road apparently smelling of alcohol following his car careening off a highway and hitting several barricades.

This all led to a pretty rough mug shot. He was charged with the DWI and felony retaliation for allegedly threatening to, quote, "shoot and kill" the troopers working the case. Back in February, he pled no contest to public intoxication following the Super Bowl.

SAMBOLIN: It is enough to shock sin city. Take a look at this. Vegas police have been flooded with calls over disturbing billboards that have popped up in the city.

Each sign has a dangling mannequin attached to it hanging from a hangman's noose. The billboards appear to be some type of protest art. One reads, quote, "dying for work."

Another reads, "Hope you're happy, Wall Street." Police are working to find out who is responsible, calling it a clear case of vandalism.

HARLOW: Well, imagine the surprise when a D.C. man ordered a flat screen from Amazon and instead received a military grade assault rifle. This really happened. Seth Horvitz didn't even realize what it was at first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH HORVITZ, RECEIVED RIFLE INSTEAD OF TV: There was metal parts and I thought, oh, these go with the TV. With what's going on recently in the mass shootings, you know, I don't want to be in a situation where this type of weapon can just show up on someone's doorstep accidently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: It shows you how accessible they are. Horvitz called police, who took custody of the weapon. Meantime, his TV still hasn't arrived.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness!

HARLOW: I couldn't believe that story. But it's true.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So how would you like to pay for your Starbucks coffee without taking your hands out of your pocket? I wish you didn't have to spend money either. There is an app for that. Find out how it works, coming up.

And for an extended look at all of our top stories, go to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We are minding your business this morning.

What app really blows your mind? There are over 500,000 to choose from in Apple's app store and about the same amount in the Android store as well.

Poppy has interesting new apps that are in the works. She's going to tell you all about them.

OK. So, the first has to do with Starbucks if you're heading out to get the morning coffee. Some, interesting news about Starbucks. They just announced this yesterday. They teamed up with this mobile payment company Square, which actually created by Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey.

So, they're going to start taking all the credit card payments using Square technology. I mean, that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is what they're trying to develop using GPS technology.

What they say they think they'll be able to do is have when you walk into a Starbucks store be able to identify who you are because your phone will alert them and then they will pull up your name and your picture on the register screen and you can say your name and what you would like to order and that's it. They're going to match your face to what's on the screen and if it works out, then you wouldn't have to pull out your phone or credit card to pay.

SAMBOLIN: So, you will have a registered credit card.

HARLOW: I want to know more about the security.

SAMBOLIN: So do I.

HARLOW: I don't want to pay for someone else's latte. That's what's coming. They're advancing.

Also, Bank of America, the biggest bank in the country just came out with a check deposit app. You can take a picture of the front and back of your check and deposit it mobilely without going to an ATM. They're not the first. Chase had this as well.

But it's just showing how advanced things are becoming. My favorite app, though, is not the most exciting one. I love the Delta app for my flights because I love to be able to check in online and as I said check my status on the upgrade list. I mean, I'm just not that app savvy.

But your kids have a lot of --

SAMBOLIN: I did. I said on my phone, if you look on my phone, you have all sorts of apps, but they're all child related and my daughter spends hours on this little app where you -- it's like mannequin and you can do makeup and jewelry and al sorts of stuff on it. So, that's the most popular on my phone.

But I was stuck on Chicago on a flight and I was trying to track it. So I did do a tracker app so that I can --

HARLOW: For all different the airlines?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, you get to choose which airline you'd like to track.

HARLOW: Was it accurate?

SAMBOLIN: No, it wasn't. Nobody seemed to be accurate that day. We were having all sorts of problems landing in New York.

Anyway, that's kind of cool. I worry about security also. I worry, you know, who else, especially the checks, what if something is deposited into the wrong bank?

HARLOW: I like the traditional way. I walk mine to the bank.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, so do I.

HARLOW: That's for us.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

They never knew it. But people in one Detroit building were working with a bomb in their office for weeks. Why didn't it detonate? I don't know. What is more troubling is how it got there. That story is coming up.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV.

Not that I want it to detonate. How odd that story is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Courtroom showdown over the Aurora shooting suspect. At issue today: what is in the package he mailed to his doctor right are before the massacre?

HARLOW: And sky high flames earlier this week at a California refinery, sky gas prices across the country expected as a result.

SAMBOLIN: Watching you, New York City's new futuristic digital eye to track crimes. Critics are asking if there is any privacy left.

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

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. It is 26 minutes past of the hour.

And later today, accused Aurora shooter James Holmes is expected to be in a courtroom again for another hearing. A Colorado judge will decide whether to lift parts of the gag order to release evidence in the case against Holmes. This, as new reports of more red flags raised and paint a disturbing picture of a tragedy that may have been prevented.

Sources tell our affiliate KMGH that Dr. Lynne Fenton, that's the psychiatrist, asked for a background check on James Holmes from the police to see if he had any criminal history. Now, you'll recall that Fenton was the psychiatrist treating Holmes who was so concerned about him that she alerted a campus threat assessment team about him.

But in court a more fundamental question today, media companies, including CNN, plan to ask the judge to unseal more documents in the case. Because of the seal, lawyers representing the media don't even know what two of the documents are about or what a number of documents may be.

Lisa Wayne is a criminal defense attorney and former public defender who joins us now.

Thank you for coming in this morning. We appreciate it.

LISA WAYNE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning.

HARLOW: You have some interesting perspective on this, Lisa. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you train Holmes' two public defenders, Tamara Brady and Daniel King?

WAYNE: Tammy Brady and Dan King were lawyers that were underneath me when I was doing training in the public defender system, yes.

HARLOW: So give us, first, big picture here. What can we expect at the hearing today?

We know what the media wants. They want a lot of those documents unsealed. They say, look, the public has a right to see these documents. They don't even know what's on the court docket because in the rare case that has been sealed as well.

WAYNE: Well, what the media is asking for is a release of the affidavits. They want to see what's been going on in terms of the litigation on this -- what's Dr. Fenton supposedly have -- what she got in the mail. So, they're asking to see all of that and the judge is going to balance whether or not he wants that to be released to the public, whether or not the public has a right to see that in balancing the defendant's right to a fair trial.

So, it's going to be a big fight with the media saying we want all of this, and we have a right to see that.

HARLOW: So, you bring up an important point. And that is the right that every American has to a fair, just trial by a jury of their peers. Is the concern here that if you release those documents those get so widespread through mass media, you have a very hard time with jury selection?

WAYNE: Well, absolutely. I mean, what the judge wants to balance here is that, you know, we want this to be transparent. The public does have a right to know what's going on in that courtroom. On the other hand, will that pollute and taint potential jurors in the case, and how much should be out there for public consumption?

Because at the end of the day, this does not want to be a media circus, this guy deserves the right to a fair trial. And that's the balance that this judge is going to have to strike in this case.

HARLOW: It is also expected this afternoon that Holmes will be in court for this hearing. You know, I was out in Aurora, Colorado, covering this, and the day that he was in court -- he just looked bizarre. People say he looked medicated. There were questions about that. He looked perplexed. There were times he was nodding off. He didn't utter one word.

Any comments that you would expect from him today or a similar presence by the defendant?

WAYNE: Well, I mean, it is speculation. What his appearance looked like someone who was out of it.

HARLOW: Right.

WAYNE: And that would not be surprising based upon what we have here. So, it's speculation. We don't even know if he'll be there today. He may not necessarily be there today.

So, we're not sure what is going to happen, but I would expect that it's probably going to be much of the same that we have already seen from him.

HARLOW: Yes, he certainly doesn't have to be there. What is your take on whether or not this judge -- you know, you got a better read on this judge than we do. Is this judge someone that would likely unseal those documents, or they're going to stick to that very tight, tight gag order?

WAYNE: Well, you know, I have to say Colorado has a history on high profile cases. Our judges are very concerned about what is out there for the public consumption again. And so I think this judge wants to make sure whatever goes forward, it's not going to be tainted in terms of what he's releasing out in the public before it should go out there.

So, there is a preliminary hearing set in this case in November. And at that point, the public will get to hear all of the details of this case and I think that's the better balance to have in terms.

HARLOW: You do? So, you think the judge is correct in this move at least thus far?

WAYNE: Absolutely. You want to be fair here. I mean, we know the case is proceeding and how much more do we need to know? I mean, we're going to hear everything about this case later on.

So, again, I think you want to be conservative. You want to make sure that you're ensuring the defendant's right to a fair trial and the victims in this case. You don't want coming back because you made a mistake early on.

HARLOW: Yes, a technicality. Lisa, thank you. Appreciate it.

WAYNE: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

Gas prices are expected to spike well above $4 a gallon on the West Coast and possibly nationwide because of a fire at Chevron's Richmond, California, refinery. That was earlier this week. The plant is partially shut down now and it's one of the region's biggest suppliers as well. Right now, the average price of a gallon of unloaded is $3.66 nationwide. That's up another 1.5 cents over night.

HARLOW: Well, an incredible story out of Detroit to tell you about. A bomb sitting in a bag in a federal building for three weeks before it was found, according to a report just released by Homeland Security.

A security guard at the McNamara building found the bag with an IED inside of it outside in February 2011. He tossed it under his desk and at least two employees eventually x-rayed it and failed to identify what it was. A federal inspector also overlooked it during four separate checks until two guards eventually grew suspicious and called in federal agents.

Three guards have been fired. A fourth resigned. Five others were suspended.

A Michigan man was later caught and charged with placing the device outside the building.

SAMBOLIN: Very bizarre story there. Federal investigators are trying to determine how a regional commuter flight landed at the wrong airport. This was West Virginia earlier this week. United Express flight 4049 was supposed to fly from Morgantown to Clarksburg Tuesday night, but landed instead at Fairmont municipal airport, which is about 10 miles away.

The flight's operator, Silver Airways, is apologizing to the 11 passengers on board and the flight crew has been removed from service while the FAA tries to figure out what happened.

HARLOW: No wildfire relief for central and northern Oklahoma. Emergency officials say the risk of fire danger will be very high to critical today. Forecasters expect high temperatures, increased winds and decreased humidity. There is a bit of good news. Fire fighters do say they're close to controlling the Lincoln County fire near Stroud, which is bout 60 miles east of Oklahoma City.

SAMBOLIN: A sick American is being evacuated from Antarctica. This is happening right now. An Australian medical team has picked up the patient and is on its way to New Zealand. The team landed on an icy runway during a really narrow window of twilight in the Antarctica's dark winter.

We were talking about this yesterday, would they be able to land and what was the perfect timing?

The patient was picked up from McMurdo research station. Listen to this, the temperature 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

We're happy to report the person is said to be in stable condition now.

HARLOW: And this story is just making headlines across the country. A pro Obama super PAC is defending a controversial ad. The ad links Mitt Romney's former employer, Bain Capital, to the death of a factory worker's wife. Here is a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SOPTIC, FACTORY WORKER: When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care. My family lost their health care. And a short time after that, my wife became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County hospital, and admitted her for pneumonia and they found the cancer and by then it was stage 4. There was nothing they could do for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: To give you a little background, this worker worked at a steel company that Bain Capital invested in. He lost his job eventually there, and they're tying him losing his job and insurance to his wife eventually dying from cancer.

Critics are accusing the super PAC Priorities USA of trying to blame Romney for the woman's death. But a strategist for Priorities USA slammed those claims on CNN's "A.C. 360".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BURTON, PRIORITIES USA: My goodness, we don't and we would not. I mean, those fact checks presuppose that's what we were trying to do and that's not the point of the ad. The point of the ad is to tell the story of the impact that Mitt Romney had on the lives of thousands of people when he came to town they lost their jobs and lost their health care. They lost their pension benefits and that impact is felt still today in those communities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Now, the Romney camp says if anyone should be criticized on health care, it's President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: If people had been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney's health care plan we would have had health care. There are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President Obama's economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The Obama campaign says it had nothing to do with the ads and does not know of the facts of the case.

But, Zoraida, this is a really controversial ad and it's going to roll out in the next few days in a lot of those battleground states.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely and wiping their hands because it is a super PAC ad and the campaign didn't pay for it.

HARLOW: Right.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

HARLOW: You know, I suggest people watch -- Brianna Keilar did a strong fact check and you can find it on CNN.com if you want to see all the details about this because it's -- they say we're not making the link but that's what you walk away from the end, ad with.

SAMBOLIN: You're right. Absolutely right.

Thirty-six minutes past the hour.

It's like something you would see on "CSI New York," right? A high tech super security computer watching and recording your every move. We'll talk about how effective it might be and the privacy concerns that it presents with a security expert. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning, New York. It is 75 degrees right now and later, mostly sunny for you and 88 degrees is our high, not too bad. You know, a lot of the country is scorching. We should consider ourselves lucky here.

So, it looks like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. But New York City's new high tech surveillance system is the real deal.

The "Domain Awareness System" allows the New York Police Department to access over 3,000 closed circuit cameras already in place in real time as well as license plate scanners and radiation detectors across the city. And they can coordinate computers and databases to nab potential criminals or terrorists before they even know they're under suspicion. It is run from a single command center.

It's located in lower Manhattan where Michael Bloomberg announced the collaboration with Microsoft on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: Our administration has consistently as you know championed the use of technology when it can be used to help solve crimes and save more New Yorker's lives and that's what this system really is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: With us now is Lou Palumbo. He's a retired Nassau County police officer and director of the Elite Intelligence and Protection Agency.

So, you weren't directly involved with this. But you do know how it works. Can you explain it to us?

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED NASSAU COUNTY POLICE OFFICER: Basically, it is just a very high tech sophisticated most recent generation surveillance system that enhances the city's ability to monitor activity on various levels, even to the extent that the detection of raid indication which is critical at this point.

SAMBOLIN: I was reading the details of this and somebody I guess that was there yesterday was saying that like a package was left at a theater, and they called 911 because they didn't know what was in the package. And instantly all of these cameras are focused on it and they can actually at that point check radiation in that particular package?

PALUMBO: Yes. They seem to have the technology in place for Microsoft that will allow them to triangulate the location of a parcel or something of interest and determine if in fact it is emitting radiation, that's correct.

SAMBOLIN: And so, what do you se as the downsides of this?

PALUMBO: I don't. SAMBOLIN: You don't?

PALUMBO: I think anything that enhances the safety and the security of the residents of the city of New York and its visitors is a positive. I know there are concerns about big brother. But I hate to break it to everyone, the horse has already been out of the stall. If you look at cell phone technology, they're able to locate you any time they want, triangulate you and give you directions to locate you.

So -- and they're already -- it is already a very, very comprehensive and high tech surveillance camera system that exists both with the city of New York and with private business owners. You can't go into Times Square, down to Wall Street, Rockefeller Center, up Madison Avenue, any number of places without being under video surveillance.

SAMBOLIN: So, what happens if let's say they're focusing in on a person and how much personal information comes up and how instant is it?

PALUMBO: Well, the interesting thing about this system is it doesn't lend was to facial recognition, which would actually be another asset. I think they would have to have a bit more information or data regarding an individual such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers or information that would lend itself to the person's pedigree, for example, prior criminal history.

But they're going to continue to move into the next generation of technology just like we have with cell phones. This is going to continue on. It is going to continue to blossom.

There is no downside to it.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I think another upside at least what Mayor Bloomberg is saying is this could be a revenue stream for the city. Talk about that.

PALUMBO: Yes. That's kind of interesting. And, you know, I have been digesting that. I am not sure where I stand on that. I gather that based on the program that we implement here, might be adapted in other cities which I think would be great, and I -- they indicated as much as 30 percent.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty percent of revenue stream.

PALUMBO: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Why do you have a problem with that?

PALUMBO: Whenever you start getting involved in receiving any types of money on programs or referrals you have to watch this conflict of interest. I am not saying that exists here. I just think they have to be very, very careful on how you proceed with this project.

You know, I refer clients at times to certain individuals that maybe vendors such as someone that does camera work or stereos or any number of things -- and I make it very, very specific that I do not receive any money on a referral. I just want them to work to the expectation of the client. This way my hands are clean.

SAMBOLIN: It will be interesting to see this as it rolls out.

Lou Palumbo, thank you so much forgetting up early with us.

PALUMBO: Well, it's my pleasure.

SAMBOLIN: We appreciate it.

Poppy, back to you.

HARLOW: All right. It is 45 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to speed on the morning's top stories.

First off, gas prices expected to skyrocket across the nation after a blaze at a Chevron refinery in California. The plant is partially shut down and it is one of the biggest suppliers on the West Coast.

Military fighter jets, choppers and tanks unleashing on virtually desserted parts of Aleppo. That was one of Syria's most populated cities at one point. The Syrian government and the opposition offering very different accounts on who controls a key neighborhood there. A Syrian opposition network saying at least 167 people were killed across the country yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: A stunning shakeup at the nation's largest breast cancer foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. President Liz Thompson and founder Nancy Brinker both stepping down. Thompson will leave the organization next month. Brinker will surrender her CEO title to focus on fundraising and planning. More fall out from Komen's decision earlier this year to suspend funding for Planned Parenthood.

An emotional and a historic day at the at the beach -- Olympic beach volleyball team Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings already have two gold medals and they just added a third. They beat Jennifer Kessy and April Ross in an all-American-women's beach volleyball final. The win was bittersweet; it marked the end of an era. It was May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings last match together. Loved it.

HARLOW: They're so impressive. Good for them.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, they are.

So John Berman and Brooke Baldwin are in for Soledad O'Brien this morning and John is going to join us for a look at what's happening on STARTING POINT.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN: Just want to try out all the seats here.

(LAUGHTER)

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a great show.

A fight over birth control and religious freedoms. Mitt Romney ripping President Obama in a new attack ad, but the president attacking back. He says Romney wants to take women's health care back to the 1950s. We're going to do somw fact checking this morning. Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn from Team Romney joins us, and former Indiana congressman Tim Romer -- he'll be from the president's corner -- he's here, too.

Also ahead, look around. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood -- the Martian neighborhood. The Mars rover Curiosity takes its first gander around the red planet and space geeks are going to want to hear this: Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for NASA's Mars exploration program, he's here with us live.

We all know NBA superstar Jeremy Lin joined the Houston Rockets last month. Among those devastated by the end of Lin-sanity here in New York, a 5-year-old boy named Naim. Check out this must-see video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the matter?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: They traded Jeremy Lin. I'm so sad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they didn't trade him. They just didn't sign him.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Why? Why didn't they sign him?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't know. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Maybe they don't like Chinese Lin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, maybe. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I know. I know it is sad, but I promise you it has a really happy ending. Naim and his dad, they're going to stop by here with such a cool update since he made that video. You will want to stick around to see why. That's all ahead on STARTING POINT.

SAMBOLIN: I love that. What a great, great little kid.

HARLOW: John reacted as well, by the way.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Up next, we go one-on-one with the teen who has the fastest thumbs in the nation.

SAMBOLIN: You go one-on-one.

HARLOW: I go one-on-one -- Zoraida is scared to take him on. Meet the national texting champ coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Our next guest is all thumbs. He is the winner of the US National Texting Championship, held in Times Square yesterday. Poppy's getting ready, here. Seventeen-year-old Austin Wierschke out- texted the competion for the second year in a row as the fastest and most accurate texter in the annual contest.

HARLOW: He won 50 grand and will now go on to compete in the upcoming global texting championship. Wonder how much you win there? He joins us now to tell us the secrets of all of his success. And I told him, right, Austin, you going to have a hard time with your first job because most jobs don't pay $50,000. Good luck on that one. Congrats.

Give us a sense, first, of what it was like, what's your strategy? How do you win and get that accuracy down?

AUSTIN WIERSCHKE, 2011 AND 2012 LG US TEXTING CHAMPION: I think it all has to do with nerves. When people get up on the stage, especially this year when it was in the middle of Times Square, with all of the people surrounding just watching, I think that just gets the best of people. They get really nervous and I think that was to my advantage because I did have that year of experience under my belt. I think it worked to my advantage.

HARLOW: Austin, how do you train to do something like this?

WIESCHKE: Obviously, I text a lot. I text my friends. I text my family. As I am riding passenger in the car, I text street signs as we're driving by and anything with words or symbols on it.

SAMBOLIN: Do you worry you're missing the world around you because you're like this?

WIERSCHKE: I am not really because I can text without looking. Like yesterday, there was a round --

HARLOW: No way.

SAMBOLIN: You were blindfolded.

WIERSCHKE: Yes, there was a blindfolded round and I got first in that round.

SAMBOLIN: Did you take first in all rounds?

WIERSCHKE: I did, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

So, we want to put this to the test. I am really bad at this. I told Poppy that she has to compete with you.

HARLOW: But you have to sing.

SAMBOLIN: Sing?

HARLOW: I am going to try. I will try. So, what are we doing, here?

SAMBOLIN: We're going to do the popular song of the summer -- Austin, we're watching you. No false starts. Call Me Maybe, you know this song, Carly Rae Jepsen -- I listen to it daily. All right. In 3-2-1. Wait.

We need the lyrics up again, guys.

WIERSCHKE: Like you don't know it.

HARLOW: Hey, I just met you.

No, it is hey I just met you.

Here's my number.

I am a little faster than you are. So call me maybe.

SAMBOLIN: Are you done yet, Austin?

WIERSCHKE: No.

HARLOW: I'm done.

SAMBOLIN: What?

You're not?

Did you win?

HARLOW: I think I had a false start.

WIERSCHKE: Now I am done.

HARLOW: My accuracy is terrible.

WIERSCHKE: My accuracy was pretty bad but I had to go back and change some stuff.

HARLOW: You went back and changed stuff. You had time to do that?

SAMBOLIN: Let's see a close up of yours. See if you got it right.

HARLOW: See if you got it right? Really?

SAMBOLIN: I'm holding him -- Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but here is my number so call me maybe. Awesome! Mine says, this is crazy vucher miss my number call me maybe.

WIERSCHKE: Hey, that's pretty close. Work on the accuracy and maybe I will see you next year.

SAMBOLIN: Okay, see you next year.

HARLOW: Good job, dude. Congratulations.

WIERSCHKE: Thank you.

HARLOW: $50,000 for accuracy there. Today's Best Advice from on of the stars of TV's True Blood. That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: We wrap it up as always with Best Advice.

Here is True Blood star Deborah Ann Woll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBORAH ANN WOLL, ACTRESS, HBO'S TRUE BLOOD: My father always used to say, Stay hungry and humble, which is, I think, a really good combination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: It is good combination and as our producers just said in our ear, especially for a vampire.

SAMBOLIN: To stay hungry.

That is EARLY START. I am Zoraida Sambolin.

HARLOW: I am Poppy Harlow. STARTING POINT starts right now.