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NFL Officials: Back to Football; Netanyahu's Warning About Iran; Bounty Scandal Rocks Pop Warner Team

Aired September 28, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Deja vu, anyone? Last second Hail Mary with the real NFL refs on the field. Say what? See what happened this time, coming up.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The man behind the movie that enraged the Muslim world arrested in California. But not for the reason you might think.

SAMBOLIN: Deadly gunfire inside a Minnesota office building. This morning the latest on what police are saying about the victims and the gunman.

And on that sad note, I say good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 in the East.

We're going to start on the field because it was at long last it was safe to play and to watch a pro-football game.

The real NFL officials made their season debut last night. The crew got a standing ovation from the crowd in M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore before the Ravens/Browns game. Football and therefore life as we know it nearly unraveled during pre-chaotic weeks with those replacement referees.

Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to fans for the lockout but he insisted the league and the referees were close to a deal even without that debacle last Monday night.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I believe we would have reached an agreement this week regardless of Monday night or Sunday night or the past weekend. Everybody was to the point of getting this concluded.


BERMAN: So how did the real guys do?

CNN's Nischelle Turner is live in Los Angeles. Nischelle, what did you think? Any bad calls?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on who you're rooting for basically, John, you know?

Yes, the refs -- the real refs got a standing ovation last night and everyone was breathing a sigh of relief that they were back on the field but you know what? It did not take long for the boo birds to come out. It was about four minutes into the game in the first quarter when the refs made a holding call on the Ravens, and you heard the boo birds so it was like, we're glad you're back, welcome back, we don't like your call. And, of course, we knew that we were going to hear that.

So I'm not sure I would say there were bad calls, but when you're the home crowd and the call goes against your team, there's never a call that you like.

Here's the benchmark, though, I think of determining whether it was a successful first outing back for the regular refs. You didn't really notice that they were there and that is a good thing.

BERMAN: It sure is. You know -- so Roger Goodell claims it wasn't that debacle Monday night that got them to the table finally to reach a deal. Is that really credible?

TURNER: You know, it is credible, but altogether the 100 percent truth, not so sure, because, of course, when you have a play like what happened Monday night and you do have replacement ref, that's going to push forward those negotiations because no one wants to see that, but Roger Goodell is correct. They have been negotiating a great deal before Monday night's game happened and he did talk about that in the press conference that he had yesterday.

Let's listen to him.


GOODELL: You know, we were in intensive negotiations for the last 10 days. There were planned meetings. We met all through the weekend, planned meetings for Tuesday morning. I think it was just another factor that kept pushing us, that this was the right thing for the game.


TURNER: And, John, you know, the interesting thing here is usually when referees are gearing up for the season, they have to go through about a week of training before they get back on the field. But since this deal was struck late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, they wanted these guys back on the feel as soon as possible because it wouldn't have been fair if the replacement refs ref one of the games during week four and the regular ones came back on Sunday and ref the rest of the games this week.

So, what they wanted to do was get the refs back on the field, so the regular refs ref every single game this week.

BERMAN: It seems like there's some level of official denial about how bad this really was. Is Roger Goodell leveling with us and telling us whether he thought the replacement refs actually did a good or bad job?

TURNER: Well, you know, he did offer an apology to the fans yesterday. So I think he was giving a little bit of a mea culpa, but what they were saying throughout the process and probably because there was a negotiation going on, was that they thought the replacement refs were doing an admirable job. I think that most people who watch the games would disagree with that.

And here's the thing, you can't really blame the refs. They were doing the best that they could and they were in almost in an impossible situation. So I think now everyone is just saying, OK, let's put this in the past, let's not think about it anymore, we have our regular refs back and let's just go forward and pretend like this didn't happen.

BERMAN: All right. Nischelle Turner, thank you very much.

We should say the game did come down to a last second Hail Mary pass, but it failed to the end zone so the refs didn't have to make a call there -- phew -- on that one.

All right. Well, one labor dispute settled, and another does drag on. Formal labor negotiations are expected to resume today between the NHL owners and players, but too late to save the entire preseason, all gone. The league canceled the remainder of the preseason games yesterday. The two sides haven't met now in over two weeks.

The NHL season is scheduled to be October 11th if the league and its union can figure out to you to split its $3.3 billion in revenues. Do not hold your breath.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no kidding.

All right. Five minutes past the hour. More questions than answers this morning after a gunman went on a shooting rampage inside a Minneapolis sign company. Shots rang out around 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

At the Accent Signage Systems building in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood on the north side of Minneapolis.

Christine Romans is here with all of the details. Terrible tragedy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And, you know, police are now saying that the gunman who killed at least two people and wounded four others also took his own life with a self- inflicted gunshot wound. Three of those wounded in the attack are now listed in critical condition. The company Accent Signage Systems, it employs around 25 people.

And this is a company that's known, has a patented technology for making signs in Braille. That business is located in a mostly residential neighborhood. Zoraida, you're right, on the north side of the city. Police SWAT teams filled the streets, taking positions on a nearby bridge. Now in a statement, Governor Mark Dayton offered his condolences to the victims. Dayton called these killings senseless violence, saying there's no place for it anywhere in Minnesota. Still looking for a motive and trying to learn more about this gunman who is now dead.

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible. I'm sure they're going to have an ongoing investigation. Thank you for that, Christine. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: Thanks, Christine.

Moving overseas now to Libya. And more than two weeks later, the Obama administration has conclude that terrorists clearly planned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there are still many unanswered questions about the attack that do still need to be resolved.


LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: As to who was involved, what specific groups were involved, I think the investigation that is ongoing hopefully will determine that.


BERMAN: The FBI is investigating the attack but agents are not yet on the ground in Benghazi due to concerns about security. They're still in Tripoli right now and sources tell CNN the consulate site remains unsecured. Meanwhile, staff is being removed from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli due to security reason there.

SAMBOLIN: And this major development -- the man who made that anti- Muslim film ignited all those protests across the Muslim world is in custody in Los Angeles this morning. But authorities claim it has nothing to do with that movie. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was ordered held yesterday on alleged parole violations connected with his conviction for bank fraud. He was ordered not to own or used devices with access to the web without approval from his provision officer. And court records show he used at least 17 fake names, including Sam Basseley, the pseudonym under which he made the film.

BERMAN: Police are trying to piece together the bizarre final moments of actor John Lewis' life. This is so strange. Investigators say the "Sons of Anarchy" star beat and strangled his 81-year-old land lady before falling from the three-story home to his death. That's as police sirens were approaching. Investigators say drugs may have been involved but they say just don't have any proof yet.

SAMBOLIN: And later this morning, police in Roseville, Michigan, will be drilling for clues in a search for the possible remains of Jimmy Hoffa. They will test soil samples from beneath the driveway of a home. They're looking for human remains.

A tipster apparently told police a body was buried there around the time the Teamsters Union chief vanished 37 years ago. Why now? Why now?

BERMAN: You know, here we go again. We'll have a report. A lot of questions about this. There are people who say, maybe. You say --

SAMBOLIN: No way. A colossal waste of time and money is exactly what I said this morning.

BERMAN: We will be investigating it in full shortly.

But meanwhile, driving while texting in most states is illegal. Maybe texting while not walking near a cliff should be also. We'll have the real story coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Twelve minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us this morning.

So, sometime today, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to speak by phone. It may not be pleasant because the two leaders cannot seem to get on the same page when it comes to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

BERMAN: Benjamin Netanyahu has been calling on the President to get tough with the Iranians to draw a red line. Now, that hasn't happened, so the Israeli prime minister pulled out a couple of props at the United Nations general assembly yesterday and drew his own red line.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Where should a red line be drawn? A red line should be drawn right her here before, before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.


BERMAN: Now, that cartoon exploded Twitter you might say yesterday afternoon. Foreign affairs reporter's Elise Labott is with us here this morning.

And it was, Elise, an eye-popping moment from the Israeli prime minister. But at the same time, there was at least a little bit of outreach on his part to the United States.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Definitely. I think in one sense, you know, there's been a lot of tension between these two leaders about this so-called red line and I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a little bit shocked that President Obama decided not to meet him. Usually, the two leaders meet. And also think he's looking at the polls, he sees a real possibility that President Obama can be off -- in office and he knows he needs to work with President Obama on a nuclear Iran.

But at the same time, their presentation yesterday was very effective because he really sent out an urgency saying Iran could have a bomb by next summer or spring.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I look at that red line. We were just talking about this, the camera caught us. What does that exactly mean that red line when you cross that?

LABOTT: It's a threshold over which if Iran passes it, then military action would be -- would be necessary and then there would be an agreement. So, he wants President Obama to lay out if Iran goes over this line, I'm in for military action.

SAMBOLIN: With some very specific details that are --

LABOTT: Basically what the prime minister said was if Iran reaches its final stage of enrichment needed for a nuclear bomb then, you know, he would want the United States to get involved.

SAMBOLIN: OK, so the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, says he will continue to seek full U.N. membership. Let's listen to this then I want you to chime in.


PRES. MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): Enhance the chances for peace, ladies and gentlemen, we will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations.


We are confident that the vast majority of world support our endeavor aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace.


SAMBOLIN: So most countries have supported Palestinian membership. Any chance that the U.S. will?

LABOTT: Well, in a word, no. The United States thinks that this is a dramatic move, would really alienate the Israelis and they want the two parties to get back to the table to negotiate, and the U.S. has even threatened to withhold aid if the Palestinians continue on this track.

BERMAN: All right. Elise Labott, thanks very much for being with us.

Big day, of course, in the United Nations again today. The subject will be Syria.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And we'll talk about that in our next hour. Thanks, Elise.

All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date. Christian Romans with this morning's top story.

ROMANS: Good morning. And thank you, Zoraida.

It started with a standing ovation. Fans of Baltimore welcoming the real NFL refs back last night after suffering through three weeks of replacements. A scene likely to be repeated at NFL stadiums on Sunday.

Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to the fans for the use of replacement refs. The league lifted its lockout of the officials after the two sides agreed on a new, eight-year labor deal.

The Romney campaign's ramping up its ad spending in three key states ahead of next Wednesday's first presidential debate. Over the next week, it'll spend about $2.5 million each on campaign ads in Ohio, Virginia, Florida. Recent polls show President Obama is extending his lead in those key states.

If Italian prosecutors get their way, six seismologists and one government official could get four years in prison for manslaughter over a bad prediction. They argue the scientists downplayed the likelihood that a series of tremors in early 2009 with a foreshadowing of a larger quake. More than 300 people died when a 6.3 magnitude quake shook L'Aquila in April of 2009.

The sound of a frightened year-old deer but this animal is actually being brought to safety. The deer fell 10 feet down an open pipe in Arizona. No way to get itself out. That's when sheriff's deputies figure out the only way was to lasso it around the neck. You can hear it crying but it's a happy ending.

SAMBOLIN: Thank goodness.

ROMANS: And New York is going to have another tourist attraction rather. The world's biggest Ferris wheel. This is going to cost $230 million. Scared of heights, Zoraida?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I am.

ROMANS: It's going to be the New York wheel. Part of a plan to draw visitors over to Staten Island. The 625-foot-high Ferris wheel will offer spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, Manhattan skyline.

So imagine from Staten Island what you can see looking toward Manhattan.

Reminds me of the London eye. You can take the Staten Island ferry to it.

BERMAN: Except it's better here, because this is America.

ROMANS: Yes, sorry.

SAMBOLIN: Listen, if you're scared of height and you're claustrophobic, not a good idea because it's a closed seat. BERMAN: Thanks, Christine.

Seventeen minutes after the hour right now. Time for your early news making the national headlines.

So, the Mayans predicted it. Get ready for carmageddon in "The Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles officials urging drivers kind of chill at home this weekend while 10-mile stretch of 405, one of the busiest freeways in the country, a shut down for a construction project. Work starts after rush hour tonight.

This is all a sequel to road work that took place in July of 2011. You'll remember that sparked fears of a traffic meltdown across the city. But, you know, it never really took shape. What people in Los Angeles are saying this time is it's September, not July, so they're more worried.

But you know what? If they weren't worried about the traffic there, they'd have nothing to talk about.

SAMBOLIN: If we -- every opportunity we find, to tie something to the Mayan prophecies, we do that.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: We've literally seen the pitfalls of texting while walking, right? Especially not a good idea when you live on the edge of a 60- foot cliff. This from "The Alaska Dispatch." A woman is recovering from multiple injuries, there she is right there, after she lost her footing apparently. She slipped on wet grass and plummeted.

She apparently was trying to toss a cigarette butt but walked a little too close to the edge because she was texting at the time. So firefighters swooped down on ropes together. They say she is lucky since the tide was up to her toes when they finally get to her.

BERMAN: The walking, texting, smoking near the cliff. Seems like a bad combination. I don't know.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh. Poor woman. Can you imagine going over?

BERMAN: She should have been juggling also. Maybe the only thing in addition.

Nineteen minutes after the hour.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, the economy and race for the White House and brand-new numbers just out for you that the President's re-election team will be sure to use.


SAMBOLIN: We are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures trading flat this morning. European markets are up and U.S. stocks closed higher yesterday because Spain finally released an official budget that included steep austerity cut. BERMAN: So, today, it is a milestone and marks the end of the third quarter, right, Christine? It wasn't so bad.

ROMANS: It wasn't so bad.

If you open up your 401(k) statement when it comes in the mail, or if you don't get it in the mail and electronic delivery, it'll show about 6 percent gain for the S&P 500. So the stock portion of your 401(k), it did OK in the quarter. Even though we found out that growth isn't that great and the economy, still worried about jobs, your stock market did OK.

And we also found something interesting yesterday that the Bureau of Labor Statistic revised back some of the job creation numbers. Every month, we get the big jobs report and tell you how many were created and it took away a talking point from the Republicans, and that is that the President has lost jobs under his tenure.

When you look at how they have revised some of the numbers, the President is now a net job creator barely. Four million jobs were lost in the first year -- and change since the President took office and now, about 4 million jobs have been added back, more than 4 million jobs added back. So, if nothing to write home about, I want to make clear but it takes away a big criticism that Republicans had.

BERMAN: Take as way a talking point. Probably doesn't create a talking point for the Obama team but --

ROMANS: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I want some more good news. Mortgage rates, another low. This is insane.

ROMANS: I feel like a broken record but record low mortgage rates again. If you have not refinanced and you are not super-underwater and you have a good credit score, you need to be -- I know, a lot of ifs.

So, the one of you who has not tried to refinance, 30-year fixed rate, 3.4 percent; 15-year, 2.73 percent. This is real money.

Let's imagine you have a $200,000 mortgage, right? You have $200,000 mortgage at 4.09 percent. That's what it would have been about a year ago. Today, if you refinance at these rates, you're talking about a savings of $948 a year. That's real money.

And that's why we like to see -- that's why the Fed is trying to keep mortgage rates low, because the Fed wants that money, that $948 a year savings for every $200,000 loan, they want it to be spent in the economy.

SAMBOLIN: Is that offsetting the cost of refinancing it or no? That dollars amount?

ROMANS: At some point it will, yes. I refinanced it and it's going to take anyone months to recoup it. I don't know if it's good or bad. After 10 months, that it's just cash in my pocket.

BERMAN: Worth looking into.

ROMANS: There you go.

BERMAN: Twenty-five minutes after the hour right now. Coming up, the search for life on Mars and why the Mars rover might be in the perfect spot to find it.

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop and mobile. Just go to


BERMAN: A new football bounty scandal. But this time, coaches are accused of offering kids cash for big hits.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious.

Caught in the act on camera. Robbers in a smash and grab hit on a jewelry store.

BERMAN: In the hottest wheels in the world, the muscle cars that's taking the Paris motor show by storm. Did you say "good gracious," by the way?

SAMBOLIN: I said "good gracious". I'm so tired of the stories in the morning, you know? Don't the thieves know that there is a camera now set to catch them?

BERMAN: I've always been told the crime is dumb. So, it's not --


They shouldn't be surprised --

SAMBOLIN: -- stupid criminal files. We're going to create a list and put all of these videos on there for you.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're really happy to have you this morning. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Another bounty scandal is rocking the football world. Only this time, it's not in the NFL. This scandal involves 10 and 11-year-olds playing Pop Warner. Coach is accused of offering players cash for crushing hits. Casey Wian reports from the football craze community of Tustin, California.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 2011 Tustin Red Cobra's Pop Warner football team went undefeated in the regular season. FRANK MICKADEIT, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: This was a team that knew it was on the verge of greatness, and indeed, it went to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida, and because it knew that it had the players in place to get that far, it was probably willing to push the boundaries of what was acceptable and they got carries away.

WIAN: John Zanelli, then an assistant coach for the team of 10and 11- year-olds now says other coaches on the team offered the boys $20 cash bounties for big hits on opposing players. Zanelli declined to speak on camera with CNN, but off camera confirmed details of the alleged bounty program first reported by Keith Sharon and Frank Mickadeit of "The Orange County Register".

MICKADEIT: All and all, we now have six parents and players saying that this happened six out of a team of about 22 confirming this happened. So, there's a little doubt -- there's no doubt in my mind that this happened.

WIAN (on-camera): We spoke with one player from the 2011 Tustin Red Cobras team whose parents did not want him identified, because they feared retaliation. The player told us coaches did discuss cash incentives for big hits, and that after games, players would vote on which player would receive the money. He also said he saw a coach give a player cash.

(voice-over) Darren Crawford, head coach of the Cobras call those claims non-sense.

Did you ever suggest or pay for a player to hurt a player on other team?

DARREN CRAWFORD, COACH, TUSTIN RED COBRAS: Absolutely not. I think that they're trumped up charges. I think John Zanelli made these charges up in his head and wrote them down on paper and submitted them. I believe to National Pop Warner. Nothing like that ever happened on my team.

ELIZABETH CHILDS, TEAM MOM, TUSTIN RED COBRAS: I've been a team mom for him for two of those four years, so I'm not what you consider a casual bystander on the sidelines. I'm always at practices. I was at the games. And I've never once heard anything mentioned in the nature of any kind of bounty.

WIAN: The local conference initially investigated the claims and called them unfounded or overstated. Late Thursday, the National Pop Warner Organization suspended Crawford and the Tustin league president saying in light of new information and players coming forward who did not participate in the league investigation, National Pop Warner will intervene to further investigate.

Crawford and other parents with boys still on the team say Zanelli's claims are the result of a vendetta stemming from long running disputes with the local Pop Warner conference. Zanelli has since left informed his own team in another league. The Cobra's 2011 season ended with a loss in the national semifinals.


WIAN (on-camera): A successful season tarnished by a bitter rift among the team's coaches, parents and players over allegations that players were paid to play hard -- John, Zoraida.

BERMAN: That's Casey Wian. You were outraged by the story.

SAMBOLIN: I really am. These are 10 and 11-year-olds, right? And when they're exposed to this type of thing, you know, this becomes common practice in the future. It's just insane, right? If this is all true, this is absolutely insane.

BERMAN: You should have seen her reacting during the story.

SAMBOLIN: Well, because I have a kid who plays, you know, sports and he'd like to continue playing sports. And I just think that you -- you know, you have -- when you have these folks that are really affecting your children and how they develop and how they think in the future about sports, you have a responsibility. And so, it does outrage me.

BERMAN: We have some happier --


SAMBOLIN: -- parents, right? You're going to be there soon.

BERMAN: I'll be there soon.


BERMAN: Thirty-four minutes after the hour. Some happier sports news. The real NFL refs getting a hero's welcome in Baltimore.

SAMBOLIN: This is incredible.

BERMAN: This is great.

SAMBOLIN: Have they ever gotten a standing ovation is what I want to know.


BERMAN: They returned to the field last night (INAUDIBLE) first three weeks due to the lockout. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, he apologized to fans for use of the replacement refs. The new agreement between the league and the referees is expected to be ratified by union members before Sunday's game.


All right. With the first presidential debate just five days away, Mitt Romney's handlers are trying to lower expectations. The two candidates go toe-to-toe Wednesday night in Denver. Romney's longtime adviser, Beth Myers, releasing a memo to surrogates outlining reasons in her view why the GOP challenger is likely to finish second. She says the President is, quote, "a uniquely gifted speaker and one of the most talented political communicators in modern history."

So, two more critical battleground states leaning toward President Obama. This is according to the latest CNN poll of polls.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): In Nevada, likely voters now favor the President by three points over Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent. Meantime, in Virginia, the President has an even wider lead, 49 percent to 44 percent.

BERMAN (voice-over): Sledgehammer smash and grab. The FBI has released a dramatic video of suspects who robbed a Saks Fifth Avenue store last week in Boca Raton, Florida. Investigators say the man ran inside the store about an hour before closing time. They used sledge hammers to smash a display case and made of for the jewelry inside. There is a $5,000 reward for information about these suspects.

SAMBOLIN: All clear this morning after a bomb scare caused a brief evacuation of a busy terminal. This was at New York Kennedy Airport. It was yesterday afternoon. Customs agents found what appeared to be a grenade-like item inside the luggage of an incoming passenger.

The passenger, apparently, told officials the item was inert, but terminal four was evacuated, anyway, just in case. The item turned out to be a paperweight, and the terminal was re-opened for business.

BERMAN: A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a Renoir painting that a Virginia woman bought for seven bucks at a flea market. now, this is a stunner of an update. A "Washington Post" reporter uncovered evidence that this painting was stolen from a Baltimore museum way back in 1951.

Now, the painting, this was supposed to go to the highest bidder at an auction tomorrow, but the auction has been canceled, and the FBI is now on the case. I'm sure the museum wants the painting back.

SAMBOLIN: And how much did she pay for it?

BERMAN: Seven bucks.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

All right. NASA scientists believe the Mars Curiosity rover has landed in a spot where water once flowed. Rocks in the area show evidence that they were formed in the presence of water, perhaps, it was even a stream. Scientists think that, at one time, the water flowing through this portion of gale crater. It was probably somewhere between ankle and (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I like the idea of it going wading.


BERMAN: You know, the former rivers of Mars.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. The Paris Motor Show opens to the public this weekend, and you're about to see the muscle car that everyone is buzzing about.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): But the new jaguar F-type isn't the only machine on display that will give you an adrenaline rush. Here's Nina dos Santos.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This year's Paris Motor Show seems at all to some pretty eye-catching cars. Take for instance this jaguar F-type. With 495 horsepower, it's expected to be one of the most significant vehicles for this company in the best part of 50 years. In the midrange of the market, though, it's all about combining flexibility with fuel efficiency, often, in compact cars.

But let's face it, many of us are seduced (ph) by the gizmos and gadgets on the dashboard as what's going on underneath the hood. Take for instance this handy in-car espresso machine. It just plugs in to your lighter socket, and then, two and a half minutes, you can have a fresh cup of coffee ideal for commuters who've had to leave home without that badly needed hit of caffeine.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, Paris.

Not bad. Could do with a bit more sugar.


SAMBOLIN: It plugs into the car, coffee to go. I love that. That is a great idea. I want one. We should pitch in.

Up next, a woman who would not take no for an answer. She led the push to shut down her daughter's failing school. Now, her story of perseverance has been made into a movie called "Won't Back Down." We'll meet this woman.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you heard about those mothers who lift one- ton trucks off their babies? They're nothing compared to me.


SAMBOLIN: It's a brand-new movie,"Won't Back Down," starring academy- award nominees, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. It is based on the real-life struggle of a California mother who led the push to shut down her daughter's failing school. I sat down with this inspiring woman to hear the true story behind the film.


DOREEN DIAZ, PARENT WHO INSPIRED FILM: She was crying every day, because she didn't want to go to school. They were overcrowded. They had 20 plus kids in the class. The kids were fist-fighting in there. The teacher had no control. Where your school is failing this terribly, you're killing their dreams. You're killing their hopes. You're killing their self-esteem.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Doreen Diaz, the mother who inspired the new movie, "Won't Back Down," says she tried for three years to work within the system to turn her daughter's school around, but she was stonewalled.

DIAZ: The superintendent at the time, I had gone to him with the issues and talked to him and his solution to me was only ever if you don't like the school or you don't like the teachers, you can change schools.

SAMBOLIN: Doreen rallied other parents to enact a little known California law called the Parent Trigger Law. If at least 50 percent of parents at a failing school sign a petition, they can take control and either bring in new staff, modify teacher contracts, convert the school into a charter school, or shut down the school entirely.

To successfully pull the trigger, Doreen reached out to Ben Austin, founder of the education advocacy group, Parent Revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about these false choices that have gotten us into this mess in the first place. Are you for charter schools or district schools? Are you for teacher's unions or education or former -- fundamentally, this is just about giving parents some power.

SAMBOLIN: With Ben's help, Doreen and the parents in her district were able to shut down the failing school. They're now working to replace it with a charter school.


SAMBOLIN: But not every parent is impressed with the message of "Won't Back Down."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was definitely something that showed the divide between the teachers and parents almost like they can't work together.

SAMBOLIN: Zakiyah Ansari is a member of the parent-led New York City organization, Coalition for Educational Justice.

ZAKIYAH ANSARI, PARENT & EDUCATION ADVOCATE: We understood from the work that we've been doing for more than ten years that it takes all of us even the Department of Education to work together to change what's happening in our schools.

SAMBOLIN: She's also worked with Randy Wieingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, a union. Randy says Trigger Laws, like the one in California, don't work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The trigger law is after a school has failed, the main choice for a parent is to put it in private hands and take it away from public accountability. As opposed to many of us championing having community-driven reform so that schools never get into that position.

SAMBOLIN: Though Doreen and Zakiyah stand on different sides of the issue, they both share the same motivation, quality education for all children.

ANSARI: This movie sends a sense of what happened to Doreen is wrong. There is no doubt about that. That should never happen. And as a parent that's engaged in this, I stand with her to say, we have to stand up for our kids.

DIAZ: We're not willing to give up the fight. It doesn't matter how much they put up the blockade, but ultimately, at the end of the day, our kids are going to get a better education because we believe in them.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Parent Trigger Law similar to the one in California have been passed in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Right now, 12 other states are considering similar measures. I got to tell you, these two women, to me, were incredibly inspiring. These women know policy. And they are set to change.

Zakiyah has eight kids who have all gone through the public school system. And, for Doreen, her 12-year-old daughter actually, you know, graduated before she's going to be able to see this change happen to her school, but they're still very committed. I think that's the powerful voice here.

BERMAN: Well, I think passion about education no matter how it's directed can only be positive.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Yes. It can be a good thing.

BERMAN: Forty-five minutes after the hour right now.

We're going to shift gears here. Lots of beer, but no happy hour. No, not at all. Take a look at this sorry, sorry site. The story behind this coming up. Oh, heartbreaking.

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


BERMAN: Forty-nine minutes after the hour right now. We want to get you up to speed on all the top stories. Christine Romans is here with that.

ROMANS: All right. Are you ready for some real football? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Because, it's back to football for the real NFL officials. The refs got a standing ovation from the fans. Of course, (INAUDIBLE) Baltimore last night. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, apologized for the use of replacement refs during the season's first three weeks. The referees' union is expected to ratify a new labor deal, and eight- year labor deal, before Sunday's game.

Families of those killed in the Aurora movie massacre have until today to decide if they want to visit the theater before renovations begin. The owners of the Century 16 Theater (ph), they asked the D.A. to reach out to the families, witnesses, and the wounded. James Holmes is charged with murder and attempted murder in the July rampage that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others. The theater should re-open around the end of the year.

A teenage boy from Chula Vista, California has died after playing the so-called pass out game. This is a game that involves teens hyperventilating and cutting off oxygen to get a buzz. Fifteen-year- old David Nunio (ph) repeated what he saw in an internet video. When he passed out, he landed on a glass, tumbler on the floor, and suffered a severe slash wound to his neck. A dangerous, dangerous game.

A whole lot of beer wasted on a highway in Colorado as semi truck carrying loads of beer rolled over yesterday on I-70 overpass in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The accident sent all of its cargo over the ramp and onto the highway below. It took several hours for workers to clean this mess up. The truck driver suffered just minor injuries.


BERMAN: You know, a lot of beer, but not a lot of calories, because it was light beer after all -- I'm just saying.

SAMBOLIN: I'm surprised you didn't take a jet over there just to hang out on the highway.

BERMAN: We're chartering to the highway right now in California to take care of that if we can.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty minutes past the hour here. If your travel plans take you through the northeast today, beware, dark skies and rain. Alexandra Steele in for Rob Marciano today. It's not all bad news, is it?


SAMBOLIN: That's right. Yes. Unless you work tomorrow, Alexandra. That is not good news.

STEELE: That's right. That's right. But it's still a Friday, right, so happy it's a Friday, but certainly a rough go on the roads as Zoraida was talking about. Here's all that radar and slow-moving rain and it's not just this morning. It will really languish throughout the day.

So, from Albany, New York down to New York City, Fairfield, Litchfield County in toward Boston, that's where the heaviest rain is this morning and will be through the afternoon. And then what it is is actually a front. And right along that front, that's where all that rain is. So, it's kind of going to train over the same areas all day long back towards Kentucky and also through Tennessee and then down toward West Texas where some of the heaviest rains will be.

So, some major problems at the airports. We'll talk about where they are. In the northeast, there's that area of low pressure with the rain, also West Texas, but, hey, in Chicago and points north, beautiful conditions in the Upper Midwest. Warm, though, in the southeast, temperatures there, ten degrees above average.

Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, beautiful conditions, but here's where the troubles will be if you're flying or driving, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, all around New York City, Hartford even, Albany, Dallas and Charlotte. So, some big troubles in the northeast, the getaway day and a lot of these big hubs will be impacted.

But, hey, if you're watching the Ryder Cup, I've got the forecast for you coming up and things looking pretty great so have that in just a few moments.

SAMBOLIN: It's always nice to have a warning, too. So, thank you, Alexandria. We appreciate that.

STEELE: Oh, you're welcome.

BERMAN: Major delays around, but a good time to watch our show because we have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START. The search for Jimmy Hoffa restarting today. Authorities digging into a driveway outside of Detroit. They're doing this on a tip. Could the result this time be different than all those other past times? We'll ask the author of "The Hoffa Wars" who has spoken to the current tipster.

SAMBOLIN: And from the red line to red tag sales. Iran's president enjoying what New York City has to offer and sending his people out on a discount shopping spree.

BERMAN: You've got to be kidding me.

Plus, a pizza party that is just for people 21 and over. A pizza place serving pie with toppings soaked in booze. This exists on Earth.

SAMBOLIN: All right. But first, the king dethroned. Which rapper just passed Elvis Presley's billboard milestone? So, the answer, folks, may surprise you.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 56 minutes past the hour. Let's take a look at what's trending this morning. BERMAN: I love this story. A dream to get one at-bat is about to come true for Adam Greenberg. Seven years ago, the promising rookie was drilled below the ear with a 92-mile-an-hour fastball. It was the only pitch he ever saw in his major league career. He didn't count as an at-bat.

He suffered vertigo and vision issues since, but now, the Miami Marlins have announced they've signed a 31-year-old to a one-day big league contract to play on Tuesday so he will get an official at-bat. Wonderful.

SAMBOLIN: That is so tough to look at, though, when he took that hit.


SAMBOLIN: I know. OK, you're right.

Now bigger than Elvis, rapper, Lil Wayne, has now topped the king, himself, with the most Billboard hot 100 list for a solo artist. Lil Wayne now has 109 "Hot 100" songs, beating Elvis Presley's mark of 108 that began with the first "Hot 100" chart back in 1958.

Here's the deal. Elvis fans are very quick to point out that Lil Wayne has only been the lead artist on 42 of those tracks and songs like "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog" were out before that chart even existed.

BERMAN: So, winning on a technicality.

BERMAN: All right. This is a photo bomb to end all photo bombs. This photo is everywhere right now. A picture of three terrified women posing for a picture when a guy lifts a stingray onto their backs. We're going to see it. It was taken on one of those excursions. Oh, all right. Well, trust me. You don't want to see this picture. We'll show it to you later in the hour. It's fantastic. It's better when you actually see it, trust me.

SAMBOLIN: We'll get it to you.

All right. So, President Obama on a campaign stop in the swing state of Ohio, the setting for this week's "Saturday Night Live" Thursday election special.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand your frustration. I said from day one that real change take more than one term or even one president. I don't know if it will even happen in eight years, might take 12. Frankly, I might be long dead. Maybe you'll be dead, too. You hear what I'm saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, we're in a deep financial hole. The numbers are bad. Twenty-three million people out of work. But things are getting better. Remember that movie, "The Sixth Sense?" (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm like the kid in that movie. I see employ people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you don't see them. Don't even know they're there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But one day, all of you will be Bruce Willis and you'll realize that you were employed all along.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn't that be nice?



SAMBOLIN: I see employed people. EARLY START continues right now.