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Goodbye Replacements; Sex Scandal; J.K Rowling's Smash Lit; Lockout Over!

Aired September 27, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Good-bye replacements. A deal with the NFL means the real refs will be on the field tonight.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Can you hear the cheering across the country?

And scandal in the U.S. Army -- a brigadier general who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan accused of sex crimes.

CHO: A new lead that could solve one of America's great mysteries. The search for Jimmy Hoffa outside his suburban Detroit home, after all these years.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. And welcome to EARLY START. We're so glad you're with us on a Thursday. I'm Alina Cho.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm glad you're back, Alina. Thank you for that.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. John will be on in a few hours. He is hosting "STARTING POINT" for us today.

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

Football fans across the country can go back to cursing out the real referees again because the NFL lockout is finally over. The blown call that blew everybody's mind on Monday night, sure lit a fire. The league and its referees reaching a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement, this was late last night. Should we call it early this morning?


CHO: And everything is moving quickly, because all of this means no more replacement refs. Commissioner Roger Goodell confirming the regular officials will be back on the field tonight when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns.

Our Jason Carroll is here. Jason, good morning.

You know, the league had to move quickly.

CARROLL: A lot of relief there. CHO: I mean, this was spiraling out of control.

CARROLL: Absolutely. I mean, we all remember what happened during that Monday night game. I mean, 70,000 calls to the NFL because of that one particular play. I mean, there was definitely a lot of incentive to get back to the table and to get this thing fixed.

And both sides working late into the night to make sure they could get a deal that both sides could be happy with, reaction now just coming in early this morning. First, let's go reaction coming in from the NFL commissioner basically saying this agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better, the teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.

Also coming in to us, reaction coming in also from the referee association president, saying we are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's game. It could not have come any sooner, especially with tonight's game with the Browns versus the Ravens.

CHO: So, this is an eight-year deal, which is unprecedented. Who got the better end of the deal? Do we know yet?

CARROLL: Well, there was promise on both sides. But I think it's clear, and I think a lot of people have been looking at this, I think it's clear that the refs really got the better end of the deal. I mean, you remember over the weekend, right -- I mean, the owners are saying, oh, there's no more wiggle room, we've given all we can.

Well, it's clear they give a little bit more, right? The refs were opposed basically to having -- switching from their pension to a 401(k) plan. They got to keep their pension. They also got a pay bump.

So, definitely the refs got the better end of this deal.

SAMBOLIN: Boy, was that a big pay bump that they got?

CARROLL: Yes. I mean, when you look at it, it's basically from $149,000 a year to $205,000 a year by 2019. So, that's pretty much of a significant bump.

SAMBOLIN: I'm curious about the pressure here. They caved to pressure, right? But who had the biggest pressure applied? Was it the fans? Was it perhaps Las Vegas yesterday? Because we heard they were actually refunding some money. How did it all play out?

CARROLL: Some people are talking about Vegas. But really, it was the pressure from the fans. One again, 70,000 calls to the NFL. You had the President weighing in on this about the call. Mitt Romney weighing in about it. There were calls for Goodell to resign because he wasn't managing things the way he should have been.

So it was really the pressure coming in from the fans, from everyone watching NFL to really get this done.

CHO: So we all know that a deal is not a deal until those signatures are sign. Until we design the papers. So, is it done? I mean, as far as we know, is there any chance this could fall through at this point?

CARROLL: Well, it has to be ratified by the referees association. But all indications are very clear, that this is a done deal. And then we're going to get back to having the regular refs on the field. As you said at the top, let's see if -- how long those sort of like honeymoon lasts, right? A year from now we'll be back to criticizing them again.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Jason Carroll, really appreciate that. Thank you very much. I'm sure everybody is glad we're having this story on this morning.

All right. Former NFL referee Red Cashion joins us live. He's going to be here in the next hour of EARLY START. The NFL actually asked him to help train the replacement officials. You know what his response was?



We're going to talk to him a little bit later.

CHO: Also this morning, an army brigadier general who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan now faces a possible court- martial for alleged sex crimes. General Jeffrey Sinclair has been charged with numerous violations of military law, including forced sodomy and inappropriate relationships with female subordinates. He was actually sent home to Ft. Bragg back in May because of the allegations.

SAMBOLIN: Air Force One had to abort an issue landing at an Ohio airport as it was flying President Obama to a campaign event.

Listen to this -- the pilot deciding to pull up, circle around and try again. Reporters on board say the jet hit bad weather and turbulence on approach to Toledo express airport. News crews on the ground were initially a bit confused about what was going on.

Listen very closely.


SAMBOLIN: That's really hard to listen there -- or to hear that.

Moments after this you could hear someone on ground say that was interesting. Air Force One did land safely on second try.

CHO: Thank goodness for that.

The Boy Scouts of America doing damage control. They've released a study claiming that children were safer from sex abuse in the scouts than they were at home or at school. That study, by the way, was prepared by a psychiatric expert hired by the Boy Scouts after a newspaper reported the group failed to report hundreds of suspected child molesters to police. SNAP, a sex abuse support group, calls the Scout study, quote, "self-serving" and the writing of a spin doctor.

SAMBOLIN: The University of California is offering to settle a class- action lawsuit brought by 21 students who were pepper sprayed at point blank range by a police officer. This was during a demonstration last year. That incident was caught on camera. It went viral.

If approve by a court, the university will pay $30,000 to each student. They were part of an Occupy Wall Street protest on that was on Davis campus.

CHO: This story got my attention last night. The endless search for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa now focused on a home in suburban Detroit. Investigators plan to drill underneath the concrete driveway and test soil from the house in Roseville, Michigan. Police say radar detected some kind of anomaly as they're calling it underneath the home. They are working off a tip from a man who claims a body was buried there at the same time the teamster leader disappeared way back in 1975.

Police say the test results should be available in the next week.

SAMBOLIN: Wouldn't that be something?

CHO: All right. Not much is known about the new novel by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling except that it is -- for adults only. "The Casual Vacancy", as it's called, goes on sale today and it's a world away from Harry and the Hogwarts. Her new book features sex, drugs and lots of swear words.

At the bottom of the hour, we'll have a live report from a London book store.

I can't wait. He was the only boy on the girls' varsity volleyball team. Right? But now, the league has changed its mind. We're going to tell you why, and what happened -- coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, showers. Good morning, New York. How are you on this fine morning?

It is 67 degrees right now. A little later, we are going to have some morning showers.

CHO: And some daylight.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And some daylight.

Ten minutes past the hour here.

The Mideast takes center stage at the U.N. General Assembly today. Palestinians expected to campaign for expanded status at the U.N. today, but stopping short of seeking full statehood right now. Israel's prime minister taking the podium just minutes later.

CHO: Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is here with a preview.

So, Elise, what can we expect today from the Palestinian president and also the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, I think that what first of all, let's start with President Abbas. You know, last year, everyone remembers who he made this dramatic stand looking for a full Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. No one was really supportive of that in the Security Council and so he kind of had to go back. He was popular at home but in the international community you saw some resistance to that.

This year, I think he's going to campaign for this non-observer's status, kind of like the Vatican. But I think he understands with the U.S. election right now, he's not going to push for a full vote.

CHO: Right. The timing is everything, right? I mean, he doesn't want to try to take away from that?

LABOTT: Exactly. Now, Prime Minister Netanyahu, I think, a lot of people are seeing this as his final warning on Iran. He only has one goal in mind during the speech. Iran is the single topic of the day.

And I think he's going to warn the world about Iran's nuclear program. I think we've been talking this week about red lines, that he doesn't want Iran to cross before the United States would be involved in military action. He -- I think he's going to lay out what his red lines are and to say to the world, listen, this is a crisis that the whole world has to deal with.

I think this is seen as his final warning that if we done see movement on this issue, Israel is going to have to act.

SAMBOLIN: I want to talk about the Iranian president. I'm going to let you first eat a little crow. You made a prediction that was wrong, right?

LABOTT: That's right. I thought -- I said yesterday on this show that I thought Ahmadinejad would kind of go for broke, kamikaze in his last U.N. General Assembly. Instead, he talked about, you know, this new world order that he sees when the world powers would have less influence.

But he wasn't as fiery. He didn't mention Israel by name.


LABOTT: And I think a lot of people were surprised, because in the statements he was saying leading up to this appearance, he was much more fiery. I think in addition to Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary General, asking him to tone it down, I think maybe the supreme leader in Iran said you might want to tone it down, because he's not very popular at home. There's a lot of tensions within Iran. SAMBOLIN: So, he pointed to a double standard considering weapons in Muslim countries versus weapons in Israel and the United States.

I want you to listen to this a little bit and I want you to chime on this.



PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (via translator): There is not trust that, or just authority to help resolve world conflicts. No one feels secure or safe, even those who have a stockpile, thousands of atomic bombs and other bombs in their arsenals.


SAMBOLIN: There's a great piece on It's called the hypocrisy in the Middle East. Sara Sidner has that piece for us.

So, I just I want your take on that.

LABOTT: Well, the whole issue is no one says anything about Iran's nuclear program.


LABOTT: Everyone says this thing about Iran's nuclear program, but Israel is believed to have about 200 nuclear weapons and no one's really pushing them outwardly on that. Everyone has ambiguity, especially the United States. And Israel -- while Iran is a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty, Israel is not.

One of the fears right now is that Iran is going to go nuclear. Israel is already nuclear. And then this is going to spark a whole arms race in the Middle East -- so a nuclear race in the Middle East.

So a lot of countries now are saying, listen, we have to address this double standard and have a nuclear-free Middle East, and Israel doesn't even want to talk about it.

CHO: I want to get back to Ahmadinejad for a moment, because we've been saying this is his last or believed to be his last appearance before the UNGA, because he's going to stop down from power at the end of the year. This is a man who's a president but acts look a dictator. He has a big personality.

Is there any reason to believe this man is going to go down quietly?

LABOTT: Well, I think he's prepared to leave office. There's a lot of tensions within Iran right now. He's not very popular. Several times almost lost his job but has managed to hang on, I think in large part because of his challenging of the West. He serves a useful purpose.

I think he might try to back some candidate that gives him some kind of influence in the country. But I think he's ready to go.

SAMBOLIN: This we won't see any more then.

All right. Elise Labott, thank you. We'll see you again on our next hour. Appreciate it.

CHO: Good to see you.

It is 16 minutes after the hour. We want to get up-to-date on the top stories.

And this is a biggie. America's long national nightmare is finally over. The NFL and its referees reaching an eight-year collective bargaining agreement last night. That is unprecedented and that means no more replacement refs. The regular officials will be back for tonight's Ravens/Browns game in Baltimore.

SAMBOLIN: FBI agents have not yet been allowed into the Libyan city of Benghazi, 15 days after four Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate there. And sources tell CNN that the crime scene on the consulate grounds has not been secured.

Sources also tell CNN that the U.S. intelligence community knew within 24 hours of the attack that it was an act of terrorism. Yet the Obama administration was cautious in saying so and has only started to acknowledge a terrorist link to the attack. This was in the last few days.

On "ANDERSON COOPER 360" last night, former CIA officer Bob Baer was asked specifically about that.


BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I think it's political. I think the White House is reluctant to admit that Libya has been lost or potentially lost. No administration wants to admit that.

I think, frankly, we can't blame losing Libya on this administration. You know, it was in the works for a long time. There wasn't much it could do. But nonetheless we have an election coming up and no one wants to take blame for messing up the Arab spring.


SAMBOLIN: The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was among those killed in that attacks.

CHO: Mitt Romney and President Obama will both be campaigning in Virginia today. They were both in Ohio yesterday. You see a trend here? Check out the GOP challenger in suburban Cleveland, getting his hands dirty with Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery's "Dirty Job" show. Rowe got the invite after writing Romney a letter about the importance of manufacturing jobs.

The President also in Ohio, visiting the campus of Bowling Green yesterday. He promised to create 1 million manufacturing jobs in the next four years if he is re-elected.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

New technology may make pumping air into your tires a thing of the past. Starting next year, Goodyear says it will test technology that actually inflates tires while the car is rolling.

Here's how it works, Alina, seriously. A sensor detects once pressure is low, then the car's weight compresses a tube built into the tire that injects air into it until it reaches optimal pressure. No more use for the gauges, right?

CHO: Cars that drive on their own, what is this world coming to?

SAMBOLIN: I need this right now. My tire pressure is low. I keep putting it off.

CHO: Is British soprano Sarah Brightman bound for space? Space tourism company Space Adventure says the singer will make a ground- breaking announcement about space travel next month. Space Adventure has brokered deal to send seven private citizens to the International Space Station on Russian spacecraft.

Trips are cheap, of course, the most recent space tourist paid $35 million.


Eighteen minutes past the hour. We want to take a moment to make a correction. Yesterday, we brought you a story about a dangerous type of binge drinking at the University of Tennessee frat house. During that story, we aired a brief clip of the University of Memphis. We did that by mistake and sincerely apologize to Memphis for that mix- up.

CHO: It's that time in the morning. It's 19 past the hour. Time for some early reads, your local news that's making national headlines.

From the "New York Daily News," listen to this, a Yonkers High School is appealing a late decision that prevents a senior male student, his name is Jenson Daniel from playing on the school's all girls' volleyball team.

We were pointing out usually it's the other way around, right? When you're talking about football certainly.

Daniel was allowed to play on the girl's team last season because Yonkers has no boys on the volleyball squad. But now, the state decided to change his mind. They say the 17-year-old cannot compete because he's too strong and that would have an adverse effect on the competition.

SAMBOLIN: I bet they're winning all their games, huh? I'm saying it's all because of him.

All right. Nineteen minutes past the hour. This is from the Nashua, New Hampshire "Telegraph". If you're fan of Bonnie and Clyde, Nashua is the place to be this weekend. Rare artifacts from the love-struck bandits will be up for auction this weekend.

The centerpiece is Bonnie Parker's infamous squat gun which could sell -- oh, my goodness -- for as much as $200,000. It's a Colt .38 caliber detective special that got the name because Bonnie was squatting when they were ambushed by Texas rangers.

Photos of the couple, including some taken after they were killed, are also part of the auction.

All right. It can be a crushing burden for college grads. Coming up, startling numbers on student loans.


SAMBOLIN: We are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are up. Welcome news after the S&P 500 closed lower for the fifth straight day, because of concerns about Europe, particularly Greece and Spain as protesters hit the streets in Athens and Madrid.

CHO: Christine Romans is here to tell us about the biggest risk to signs of recovery here in the United States. So, what is it?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I told you about housing getting a little bit better. Also that consumer confidence going up. We're seeing slight signs of recovery in the economy. We're going to get a bunch of economic data today, and then Congress hands you a fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff hasn't even happened yet. I can tell you it is already hurting jobs. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are warning that they will hire fewer people and invest less in the next six months because of the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff.

The Boeing CEO, James McNerney, said that the fiscal cliff rose, quote, "cold water on long term planning." I mean, think of it. If you're CEO, you're making plans right now for the beginning of next year. If you don't know what your taxes are going to be, or what the economy is going to look like, if there's going to be a recession because of fiscal cliff, you certainly won't build a new plan. You're going to be on hold.

This was say survey conducted by the Business Roundtable. That's a lobbying group of the big CEOs of top companies. Twenty-nine percent of those CEOs said they expect to hire more employees the next six months -- 29 percent. We need 100 percent to be hiring, 29 percent hiring. That's down from a 36 percent in the last quarter.

Now, also in the fiscal cliff would be the loss of a tax credit for sending a kid to college. Right? Fiscal cliff has a lot of different parts of it.

SAMBOLIN: You know, it's funny, because I thought we had to wait until it happened in order to feel the results and, you know --

ROMANS: It's happening now. A lot of people are telling me, oh, Christine -- people in Washington especially, don't worry, at the 11th they're going to fix it.

You know, I cover companies. I'm saying the 11th hour is too late. The uncertainty in December from a very heated and painful period, when we were doing the debt ceiling debacle, they'll be starting to lobby and they'll start to say we should be looking at Simpson-Bowles, deficit deduction and fix it.

I mention there's a tax credit for sending a kid to college. That would be something that would disappear as well.

Also new this morning, Pew Research saying that one in five households, a record one in five households owed student debt in 2010. In that year, 19 percent of households held student debt. That's a significant jump from just 15 percent of households in 2007 before the recession.

The average student debt, so for a family that has student debt, the average debt is more than $26,000. That's triple what it was in 1989.

We know that student debt now is now approaching a trillion dollars. That's more than credit card debt in the U.S., outstanding credit card debit.

And, you know, your incomes aren't budging. You can't borrow tens of thousands of dollars against your house anymore. A lot of people ask me, how am I supposed to be able to send a kid to college?

A piece of advice I got from a financial guru named Carmen Wong Ulrich. Save a third. You need to be saving a third of the college. A third should be loans. Only a third should be loans or you will never get out of it.

A third should be loans, the other third should be grants, scholarships and the kid has to pay. So you got to aim to save for a third, or you're going to be hurting your chances and your kids chances.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, let the kids save some of the money they're making, right, to contribute.

Thank you, Christine. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHO: Well, if you're looking for wizards in J.K. Rowling's new book, you're about to be disappointed. Coming up, we're going to go live to London where the novel will go on sale there in less than an hour.



CHO (voice-over): The NFL strikes a deal. Tonight, in Baltimore, the real refs replace the replacements.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): There she blows. Look at this. A very rare white whale spotted for the first time in decades. We have all the video for you.

CHO: I love it.

Not doing it for the kids. Mega-selling author, J.K. Rowling's, new book aimed at adults, and it comes out in less than an hour.


CHO (on-camera): Good morning and welcome, everybody, to EARLY START. I'm glad you're with us. I'm Alina Cho.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

So, did you hear it? It was a collective sigh of relief this morning from football fans and fantasy freaks all across America. That's right. You can say so long to the replacement refs. Forty-eight hours after the blown call that sparked national outrage, the NFL reached an eight-year collective bargaining agreement with its referees. They shook on the deal last night.

The lockout is officially over effective immediately. So, that means the regular officials that you love to hate are back. Commissioner, Roger Goodell, confirming they will be on the field tonight when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns.

CHO: All right. Well, the refs are back and so is J.K. Rowling. The author who made Harry Potter a household name has now cast her spell on adults. Her new novel, "The Casual Vacancy," will be on store shelves today. And it's about as far from the wizarding world as you can get. The book has just gone on sale in Britain.

And that's where we find CNN's Erin McLaughlin. She is live at a bookstore there. Erin, Good morning. They're calling this potter to potty mouth. You know, the huge anticipation for this book is just palpable. A lot of the details, obviously have been kept secret, but you managed to get your hands on it. How did you do that?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alina. Yes, I have. Basically, I was not one of the few journalists selected to get an advanced copy or to read the book in advance. I got it just like anyone else here in the UK can at this point coming to their local bookstore. It's also available on E-reader.

So far, this book, we have not seen the kind of frenzy here in the UK that we saw for the launch of the Harry Potter series. There aren't the long lines. I've yet to see a wizard costume. Customers seem to be driven primarily by a curiosity to see what Rowling has in store for them next. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think it will be interesting to see how J.K. Rowling, how she writes something else that isn't Harry Potter, isn't more aimed at children or young People. It's really interesting. And I've heard lots of things about the "Casual Vacancies" and political satire and more of that. So, it's going to be nice to see how she pulls it off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's trying to move on from Harry Potter. So, we're just happy to see what else she comes up with.


MCLAUGHLIN: Rowling has said that she wanted this to be a normal book launch. She said that she wanted to avoid some of the, quote, "frenzy" that surrounded some of the Harry Potter series and judging from the scene at this bookstore. That seems to be exactly what has happened.

CHO: What's interesting, Erin, is she actually said in a recent interview that she was surprised at how much she still thinks about Harry, even though she just read a book about -- for adults, rather. And it's true, you know? This book is definitely not for kids. We need to make that clear. And, it's actually pretty racy, isn't it?

MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know about racy. It's certainly not the E.L. James "50 Shades," but what we do know about the plot, again, I'm still reading it. We know that it's about -- it's centered in a small English town. The plot revolves around the death of a council member and the drama that ensues in the election to replace him.

We do know that it involves some things of poverty. It involves some racy language, if you will. There are some bad words in this book. But J.K. Rowling, herself, has said that she drew from her own personal experiences and in an interview with ABC News last night, she talked a little bit about that. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've gone, it seems to me, from the ultimate fantasy to the ultimate reality.

JK ROWLING, AUTHOR: Yes, I think that's a very fair statement. I have gone from dragons and unicorns and all fun that's involved in writing that to a book that's intensely personal, that expresses a lot of my reality.


CHO: Erin McLaughlin live for us in London. Erin, thank you very much. Go ahead. Go ahead.

MCLAUGHLIN: I was just reiterating just a personal story, it seems, for Rowling and definitely not one for children -- Alina.

CHO: All right. Erin McLaughlin, that store just about to get very busy in London, thank you so much for joining us. And, just how big is J.K. Rowling? That's what we want to know. Well, the seven Harry Potter, listen to this, books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide. The eight Potter films grossed $7,709,205, 984 to be exact.


CHO: How we got to that number? Don't ask me. And according to the "London Sunday Times," J.K. Rowling, herself, is worth more than $900 million. Really


Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. He suggested that women can turn off conception in the case of legitimate rape.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): But Congressman Todd Akin has picked up more support for his beleaguered Missouri Senate campaign. South Carolina senator, Jim DeMint, and Rick Santorum, the former GOP presidential candidate, urged voters to back Akin and help Republicans win the Senate.

Central Florida Wildlife officials say they think they killed the gator that ripped of an 84-year-old woman's arm. They say Carol Huck (ph) was attacked yesterday morning after falling into a canal. A neighbor noticed her flailing and helped her get out. She is out of surgery, and we are happy to report she's in stable condition.

CHO (voice-over): There's a major problem with the newly renovated Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in the nation's capital. Apparently, it is full of algae. The pool only re-opened a month ago following an expensive two-year, $34 million overhaul. That's right.

The National Parks Service says there are a number of reasons for this algae bloom, among them, the reflecting pool draws water from the nearby tidal basin where algae grows naturally. Also, algae loves warm weather.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really a shame that they hadn't planned out this a little bit, better so you wouldn't have algae growing after all this time and money.


CHO: The yuck factor is right. The reflecting pool's filtering system is actually trying to remove most of that algae, but some of it is also being removed by hand.

SAMBOLIN: Here's a job for you.

Take a look at this, folks. Look, look, look. It's an extremely rare albino whale. Did you know they even existed? It has been spotted once again swimming off the eastern coast of Australia. Researchers have named the whale Migaloo and say it is the only all white, full- sized hump back whale in the entire world.

Migaloo was first spotted years ago when he was a juvenile. Scientists now believe the whale is in his 20.

CHO: That's pretty --

SAMBOLIN: This is incredible. They were overcome with emotion when they were talking about this. It's fantastic.

CHO: Wow! That's quite a sight.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Get the kids to the TV. we're going to keep on showing you this video all morning long.

CHO (on-camera): That's right. It's a brand new age for what used to be called the war on drugs. Coming up, CNN in depth on what both President Obama and Mitt Romney want to do to tackle the problem. That's next.


CHO: Forty-three minutes after the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. We have been going in depth on the issues that matter to you, the voter, in 2012. And today, we're talking about the war on drugs. This year in America, federal and state governments have already spent a combined $30 billion to combat drugs.

According to the non-profit group,, 11.1 billion of that money has been spent by the feds, 19 billion by the states with 1.2 million Americans already arrested this year for drug offenses. Staggering numbers. And everyone involved will tell you, the war on drugs is failing, which begs the question, how would President Obama or Mitt Romney tackle the problem over the next four years? Here's John Zarrella.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fishing trawler tries outrunning a coast guard cutter. The crew of the cutter fires its 50-caliber machine gun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been hit. Got smoke. Got smoke.

All right!

ZARRELLA: Disabling the trawler. On board, 20 tons of marijuana. This was the mid-1980s. The drug war was at its height. Then Vice President George Bush headed up a task force to fight the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got to do better in interdicting it.

ZARRELLA: In Miami, cocaine is found hidden in commercial jets, flowers, even boxes of yams. The problem is, some aren't yams at all, rather plaster casts painted and shaped like yams. Inside, pure coc. Stash houses and drug labs are routinely raided. That was a war on drugs. These days, it's not even a war on words.

(on-camera) The White House doesn't even call it a war any longer, focusing more on prevention. And in this political season, the issue of illicit drugs rarely gets a mention on the campaign trail.

(voice-over) When it does come up, President Obama and Mitt Romney appear to be on the same page.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The President of the United States must make a priority of helping reduce demand in this country.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States can focus on drug treatment and prevention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. I agree with that.

ZARRELLA: If anyone should know, it's Judge Gisele Pollack. She presides over misdemeanor drug court in Broward County, Florida. The idea, you get clean, you avoid a criminal record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've done perfect throughout the entire program. There's no violation of probation.

ZARRELLA: Pollack says drug courts ought to be a priority for the candidates, because they reduce drug dependency and save taxpayers millions. And she's got the numbers to back it up. A study showed Pollack's court saved the county as much as $30 million a year over a five-year period, basically, the difference in the cost of treatment and counseling versus incarceration.

JUDGE GISELE POLLACK, MISDEMEANOR DRUG COURT: If we can keep them out of the criminal justice system at this level, then we will save billions and billions in prison costs.

ZARRELLA: For the White House, it's a multilayered approach. Focus on education and prevention, treat drugs and addiction as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice concern. Law enforcement continues choking off the supply. This year, the federal government is spending just over $10 billion on prevention and treatment.

Law enforcement and corrections, just under ten. Mitt Romney has not outline how he would allocate federal dollars, but both men say they are not in favor of legalizing marijuana, and both are emphatic that working closely with Mexico, which has supplanted Florida as a favorite drug route is a must.

Pollack says she'd like more political discussion about drugs in part because substance abuse can be the result of a job loss or tough economic times.

POLLACK: We live in a society of aggravating stress. So, it's only natural that people are going to turn to substances whatever they may be with be to numb their pain, their stress. ZARRELLA: Ironically, the most talked about campaign issues leading to one of the least.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to John.

It is 47 minutes past the hour. You don't hear this every day. The winner wants a recount. Coming up, ranking the top colleges in the country. Studying had nothing to do with this survey.

And, if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to


SAMBOLIN: It is 50 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date on the day's top stories.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Do you know about this one? Football fans won't be seeing another replacement ref for at least eight years. The NFL and its officials agreeing on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement last night. The regular referees back on the field right in time for tonight's Browns/Ravens contest in Baltimore. Lots of happy fans there.

And a convenience store clerk has quite an arm. Look at this. He fought off a knife-wielding robber with beer cans. He threw the beer cans at him. The robber who covered his face with his shirt dropped the knife, and the money he was planning to take as he ran away.

CHO (voice-over): Wow!

SAMBOLIN: Police were able to identify the suspect. He was arrested at his home and charged.


CHO: I don't mean to laugh.

SAMBOLIN: -- is this a great way for you to start your day? Look at this. Look at this.

CHO: Good for him. Good for him.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, he has a great arm.

CHO: I mean, I can't --

SAMBOLIN: So, that guy was charged with battery and armed robbery.

CHO: Good. SAMBOLIN: Look at all the money that falls right out. Fantastic.

CHO: Good. It's right there in the store where it should be.

The new Jaguar F-type sports cars expected to be one of the main attractions from the Paris auto show opens its doors to the public this weekend. Organizers are bit jittery. Car sales in Europe are down for their fifth straight year. And the French automaker, Peugeot, just announced plans to shut down a major factory, eliminating 8,000 jobs.

Listen to this. We told you about it before the break. Playboy's number one party school wants a recount. That's right. The University of Virginia earned the quote/unquote, "honor." The rankings are based on sex, sports, and night life according to Playboy. A spokesperson says UVA isn't happy about it

You think? And it's far more important for the university to be known for our academic achievements in training and research. It is a great school, UVA. The top ten party schools also include Southern Cal, Florida, the University of Texas and Wisconsin, also Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Texas Christian and Ohio State.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): So, let's check in for today's weather with Rob Marciano. Hey, Rob. Guys, always say they read Playboy. Did you know about this list?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I no longer well-subscribed (ph), but yes, I've heard about this list. And, I'm surprised that Cornell is not on there, quite frankly. Good morning.


MARCIANO: You know, as you mentioned, Vanderbilt -- what was the top two? UVA. Excellent schools academically. Anyway, they got to going all sorts of ways.

Look at rainfall across the northeast. East of New Haven pretty much dry right now, but Morristown, New Jersey, experiencing some heavy rainfall. Some of this getting into Harristown as well and then back through the west and through the Ohio River Valley, back through the Missouri and Mississippi River.

Right around the boot hill of Missouri is where we're seeing some thunderstorms that are dumping some heavy rain. And some rain will take it, much needed across parts of Oklahoma. So, this is the stretch of real estate where we're going to see not only showers but thunderstorms that could be severe today. Some of which may put down some large hail.

Maybe an isolated tornado around the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma, stretching into Southeastern Colorado. This front not moving very quickly. So, along it, you see the rain and showers. North of it, for the most part, dry. South of it, kind of warm and humid for this time of year. Temperatures feeling summerlike in Memphis, 89 degrees, 92 degrees in Dallas, 70 degrees in New York City. Keep your umbrella in place -- guys.

CHO (on-camera): All right. Rob, thank you very much.

We've got a packed hour ahead on EARLY START. We are all complaining about them in a couple of weeks or we have been, rather. But for now, we're happy to have the real refs back on the field. We'll be talking to legendary former official Red Cashion who is training the current referees. He'll be talking to Zoraida.

Plus, a teen in a sheet and a black mask walking up and down the street with a rocket launcher on the streets of Phoenix? It was all a hoax to prove a point. Now, the man who put the kid up to it is in a whole lot of trouble.

And get ready to learn that anything is possible. First, he beat cancer, then he hit mega millions. The incredible story of a 19-year- old cancer survivor who won the lotto and his plan to help those who helped him. Isn't that amazing?

SAMBOLIN: But first, it is a modern day golden ticket. Nestle -- Nestle, rather, implanting a chip in chocolate bars? Why? We're going to tell you.


SAMBOLIN: The boys of late night took a few parting shots at the replacement, the replacement refs, that is. Take a look.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Next month, Stevie Wonder will perform at a fundraiser for President Obama, and after that, Stevie will return to his other gig, an NFL replacement ref.

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gave a big speech at the U.N. today, and he was actually applauded. Yes. Of course, he did start his speech by saying these replacement refs suck!


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I tell you, these replacement refs are bad, they're bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on! How bad could it be?

LENO: They are so bad if they were players, they'd be the Cleveland Browns. That's how bad.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The media has finally taken a stand on an issue of this day and said, let's bring our boys home.


STEWART: Bring them home to the NFL, because Mr. Goodell, tear down that wall. It's been our linesmen. Look, America finally learned what it would take to quickly settle a labor dispute.

A blown offensive interference call and an interception call that not only cost the Green Bay Packers a victory but caused one unnamed American who had taken the Packers while (ph) giving the points, $200, and one week of walking around the office wearing only a Seattle Seahawks jersey and a thong.



CHO: Easy target, right?



CHO: EARLY START continues right now.