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Israel, Palestinian Militants Exchange Fire; Obama Ready to Rumble; BP Paying the Price; Buffet Not Worried About Fiscal Cliff

Aired November 15, 2012 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: a blistering assault under way right now in Gaza.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Fighting words from President Obama, sticking up for one of his own in the face of critics.

BERMAN: And paying the price: BP reportedly closer to a plea deal over the Gulf Oil spill that could cost the oil giants a billion dollars.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: We begin this morning with breaking news. A new crisis in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian militants exchanging deadly fire near the Israel-Gaza border. Israel says its military assault on the Gaza Strip is in retaliation for ongoing rocket attacks into southern Israel.

BERMAN: The new round of violence triggered by an air strike that killed the top Hamas military commander.

CNN's Sara Sidner is following the story.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. We are standing now just above Gaza. And you can see Gaza behind me. There has been airstrike after airstrike after airstrike. As we are coming in from the Erez Crossing from southern Israel side of the border into Gaza, we ourselves witnessed three airstrikes, major hit. We could see fire and then three plumes of smoke.

Since then we've been also seeing and hearing rockets coming over into southern Israel. We now know there are three people who have died in Israel in an apartment building very near, within a seven-kilometer radius of Gaza in Israel. We also know that at least seven people have been killed here in Gaza and the airstrikes are continuing.

Right now we do -- we do and we are watching the funeral happen of Hamas -- the leader of Hamas' military wing, that is going on as we speak. Thousands of people attending that funeral. A very important figure, someone who people see as one of the founders of Hamas, a symbolic member of Hamas as well.

And we are expecting this to continue for quite some time. We really have no idea. We have no guidance from either side as to when the fighting between Israel and Gaza might stop. So far, it has been a constant barrage of airstrikes here in Gaza and rockets coming in to southern Israel.

BERMAN: Sara, there's a report on the Israeli defense Web site suggesting that reserve units, infantry units are preparing for at least of the possibility of a ground assault. I'm wondering if you're hearing anything about that.

SIDNER: Absolutely. Last night, actually we confirmed that. I sat and talked with the Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovitch who told me directly that, yes, indeed, the military is preparing but they have not called for a ground war.

They are bringing in reservists. They are preparing those reservists for the possibility of coming in on the ground but they have not made that determination yet. They certainly have been striking from the air.

They have been striking also from the sea. We know that Israeli ships have been striking. Just now I heard another blast sounding like another airstrike. You're hearing return fire as well. Just behind me here in Gaza.

This is a situation where civilians are extremely frightened on both sides of the border here in Gaza as we drove through the streets, it was quiet. Most of the shops were closed in the areas and neighborhoods that we went through. There's a sense of extreme tension here.

When we got to the other side of the Erez Crossing, we were hearing more from the taxi drivers. Again, you're hearing more of what sounds like gunfire from inside Gaza. You can really hear a distinct sound, when the air strikes hit, you can hear a large, deep blast followed by often fire and followed by huge plumes of smoke.

There have been over 100 strikes since last night, since the killing of the leader of Hamas' military ring.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Sara Sidner, live for us -- thank you very much for that update.

All right. A defiant President Obama making it clear he is ready to rumble with the Republicans. The president drawing two big lines in the sand in his first news conference since winning re-election. First, on taxes and the fiscal cliff.


OBAMA: But what I'm not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can't afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.


SAMBOLIN: The president also coming to the defense of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who just a few days after the attack as you recall said violence on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam film.

Two top-ranking Republicans are vowing to block Rice's nomination if she is picked to be the next secretary of state.

The president firing back with a rare flash of anger.


OBAMA: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.


SAMBOLIN: White House correspondent Dan Lothian, live from Washington this morning.

It's really nice to see you, Dan.


SAMBOLIN: So, let's first talk about the fiscal cliff. The president said we could see a deal by next week. That may hinge on this issue with taxes.

How are Republicans responding to the president's remarks?

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know, first of all, there does seem a willingness by Republicans to find areas of agreement, to reach some kind of a compromise. But they are pushing back on the president's plan because they don't believe that a solution should lie in tax hikes for any Americans, including the wealthiest of Americans, despite the fact that there's this looming fiscal cliff and the president has said, as you heard just a short time ago, that only middle class Americans should get some ease here and not those wealthy Americans from those taxes.

And despite that, John Boehner believes that a solution is possible. Take a listen.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I've outlined a framework for how both parties can work together to avert the fiscal cliff without raising tax rates. If you've look closely at what the president had to say and look closely at what I've had to say, you know, there are no barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process.


LOTHIAN: When it comes to those tax hikes, though, the president saying that 98 percent of Americans would not see their taxes go up, that 97 percent of small businesses would not be impacted at all. He does see some room there to close loopholes for some tax reforms but he doesn't believe that that's enough to make up that trillion dollars, and that the math simply doesn't add up.

So what the president wants is a comprehensive plan so that middle- class Americans are not hurt, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Let's move on to the heated back and forth over U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham say that they would actually try to block Rice from being promoted to secretary of state should she be nominated. They are criticizing her over the statement that she read days after the deadly Benghazi attack saying they were spontaneous and stemmed from a protest over an anti-Islamic film and were not the work of extremists. Officials say those remarks were given to her by the CIA based on the intelligence they had at a time.

So why is the GOP going after Rice?

LOTHIAN: Well, because, you know, they feel she really was the face of the administration at the time, and the narrative that she laid out at the time simply did not turn out to be the case. So they don't believe -- John McCain and other Republicans don't believe that the information that's been put out there has been very accurate and they don't believe that it adds up. Take a listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Well, first of all talking points came from the White House, not from the DNI. Second of all, it was obvious within 24 hours that the station chief from the CIA had said that this was a terrorist attack.

And she continued to tell the world through all the talk shows, that it was a, quote, "spontaneous" demonstration sparked by a video. That's not competence in my view.

And the president is the one who is ultimately responsible. That is not an acceptable person, in my view, to be secretary of state.


LOTHIAN: President Obama says it is important to find out exactly what happened there but it's outrageous for Senator McCain or other Republicans to go after Ms. Rice, that it's the president who's responsible, that he should be the one if they want to point fingers or go after anyone -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dan Lothian live in Washington for us -- thank you.


BERMAN: New developments this morning in the Petraeus sex scandal leading back to square one. We know the identity of the FBI agent who helped start the investigation that eventually led to the former CIA director's resignation. His name is Frederick Humphries II, 47 years old and a veteran investigator.

Also two U.S. officials say Petraeus biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, her security clearance is now suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Barbara Starr is following developments this morning for us from the Pentagon.

And, Barbara, we're hearing so far there have been no official findings that Broadwell broke any laws or engaged in criminal activity. So, why suspend her security clearance?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fran Townsend is reporting just that, John, that all the indications are, from the law enforcement sources she's spoken to, not egregious violation, maybe some classified information on Broadwell's computer.

That's in civilian law enforcement channels, but Broadwell is a reservist in military intelligence with the Army. And inside the military, a violation, even if it's so-called minor, of handling classified information, especially when you're a military intelligence analyst is quite serious.

So, yes, the Army has suspended her security clearance. I want to read to you the statement that the Army put out. The Army said, quote, "The Army has been cooperating with federal law enforcement authorities in this matter and those actions are ongoing. Appropriate actions with regard to this officer's clearance and access have been taken."

So now what we know is the military is also involved in this. Analyzing what is going on, pulling Broadwell's security clearance, at least for now. She is in the position of having to demonstrate that she can get that clearance back and continue her career as an Army reservist, John.

BERMAN: There are so many facets to this. Tomorrow, David Petraeus is going to testify or talk to leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the attacks in Benghazi.

This is a closed-door session, though, Barbara. Do you have any idea what's going to be discussed?

STARR: Well, we are told indeed closed door, Petraeus wanted to voluntarily come and talk to them about what he knew -- you know, nobody is saying what it is that he's actually going to say.

But we've talked to some people close to Petraeus and the indications are he's going to try and explain this whole issue that Dan was talking about. When they thought it was a terrorist attack, what they knew about it, who they thought might be responsible and whether or not that whole situation in Cairo at the time about the demonstration over an anti-Islamic film may have played a role. It's a very murky situation, John.

BERMAN: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon this morning -- thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Eleven minutes past the hour.

Staten Island's long been called New York's forgotten borough. Not today. Coming up, how the president will pay personal attention to the victims of Sandy. That's scheduled to happen just hours from now.


SAMBOLIN: Fifteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

President Obama travels to New York City today for an up close look at what superstorm Sandy left behind. The president will survey the damage and talk with residents of Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas of the city.

It's his second tour of the Sandy devastation. He visited the New Jersey coast with Governor Chris Christie just days after the storm. The president offered to visit the city and assess the storm damage then. But Mayor Bloomberg turned down the offer.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is live in Staten Island.

Good morning to you, Victor. What is the president hoping to accomplish there today?


The mission is at least two-fold. First, to fulfill that comforter- in-chief role to come and speak with the people who have either lost someone or something in this storm. Remember, of the 43 deaths across the city of New York, more than half of them on Staten Island. If they have not lost someone, they've likely lost something -- much like the store behind me, completely decimated by the storm.

He's also going to speak with local officials about recovery and believe me, there's a lot of work to do because there are scenes like this sporadically across Staten Island -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And, Victor, I know that you've spent a lot of time with the residents there, Staten Island. How are they reacting to the president's visit?

BLACKWELL: Well, not one person I've spoken with had said that the president should not come. They are also requesting that Mr. President, if you come, don't just come with hugs and good words, come with something that we can use.

I spoke with a man, Mike Hoffman, yesterday, who's actually dispatching teams of volunteers. And he says he wants specific things from the president.


MIKE HOFFMAN, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: Bittersweet. It's going to create a lot of traffic and it's going to impede a lot of the work that we're trying to do here. But at the same time, he wants to address the issue. He can do it fine in a helicopter.

If you're going to come here, come here with a couple truck loads of volunteers. Get some guys that are willing to get their hands dirty and let's help the people of the area.


BLACKWELL: Mike Hoffman's message was: please do not forget us. He says it will take six months to a year for this community to recover, but he and everyone I've spoken with, they all believe that Staten Island will recover, but it will take some time -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Victor Blackwell, live in Staten Island for us -- thank you for that. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: It is 17 minutes after the hour. A lot going on this morning.

Christine Romans here with the headlines.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of news today, guys. Thanks.

Tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants threatening to erupt into an all-out war. Israel targeting what it calls Hamas terror sites in Gaza. At least three people in southern Island have been killed by rocket fire. The new hostility escalated after an Israel airstrike killed the leader of Hamas military wing.

Jon Bon Jovi's 19-year-old daughter is recovering at a hospital this morning after overdosing on heroin. Authorities say Stephanie Bongiovi was found unresponsive yesterday at her hotel room -- I'm sorry, her dorm rather in Hamilton College in Upstate New York. She and fellow students were -- and a fellow student were charged with drug possession. Stephanie is the oldest of Jon Bon Jovi's four daughters.

And it's the beginning of the end for the "Twilight" film franchise. 'Breaking Dawn Part II" debuts tonight in midnight shows from coast to coast. Critics say this is the fifth, the final chapter, maybe the best of all the "Twilight" films. And it's been described as a love letter to all those Twi-hards who apparently are everywhere. Speaking of vampires, later on "STARTING POINT", actress Elizabeth Reaser joins Soledad. She plays the matriarch of "Twilight" vampire clan.

Are you going to run out of midnight to see it, John?

BERMAN: Twi-hards?

ROMANS: Twi-hards.

BERMAN: I don't know -- no. I saw the first. (INAUDIBLE) played on my couch while I was sleeping.


SAMBOLIN: Are you a fan?

BERMAN: No, no. I like vampires and stuff. But it's only teen girls. I'm not into that. Not for me.

All right. Eighteen minutes after the hour right now.

And a troubling trend on Wall Street. It began almost as soon as the voting ended. We'll have more coming up.


BERMAN: Minding your business this morning, U.S. stock futures trading higher for now at least.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, Christine Romans is back with us, talking markets, fiscal cliffs, CEO talks and BP. You got a lot on your plate.

ROMANS: There's a lot on my plate this morning. And I'm going to be talking about MF Global and Jon Corzine. I'll do that later.

Look, U.S. stock futures are up. The European markets are down and we just learned that the euro area, 17 countries that use the euro, has slipped into a double dip recession. So, that's something that certainly we'll be talking about here in this country today.

Markets were lower yesterday, 185 points down on the Dow.

Did you know since election, the market, the Dow is down almost 700 points since the election? Look at that chart.

A variety of things happened here. Four-month lows for stocks. You've got the euro weakness -- the eurozone weakness I've been telling you about. Concerns about what's happening there. It's our biggest trading partner.

You got the fiscal cliff talk. You've got companies very concerned about the fiscal cliff and also sort of a slowing American consumer.

So, all of these things working together here to be a problem for markets. Speaking of the fiscal cliff -- CEOs who met with the president yesterday are saying they're optimistic about their 90-minute meeting and about what they heard there.

David Cote, who is this Honeywell CEO, said this is going to get solved one way or another.

You want to get it solve one way or another the best way possible for the American people, of course, and for consumers.

And Walmart in a statement yesterday said they're very concerned about their consumer. You know, "Our customers," they say, "are working hard to adapt to the new normal but their confidence is still very fragile. They're shopping for Christmas now and they don't need uncertainty over tax increase."

There was a great piece yesterday in "USA Today" that I think shows what this cliff looks like. You're hearing a lot from insiders, Beltway insiders that it's more like a slope, not a cliff.

This is why it's called a cliff. These are all of the tax increases for the year. These are the spending cuts. You add them all together over a year and you've got an economy that has that much money taken out of it.

Here's where we are here, here's where we end up. That's a recession. It's also 9.1 percent unemployment, according to CBO, by the end of the year.

Now, it's really curious because Warren Buffett says he's not so concerned about it. You're going to hear from Poppy and her interview with Warren a little bit later. But these CEOs are quite concern about it. And, you know, when Walmart says we're worried about our shoppers because they're exactly the people who would be hurt by fiscal cliff, that's something I take notice to.

And, finally, BP, this is a story we've covered extensively, of course. BP said to be close in advanced talks with a settlement with the government. There's that picture. Remember these pictures?

We watched as the oil was shooting out of this damaged wellhead. They're very close to a settlement with the government. We expect it will be massive. They're trying to put at least this part of it behind them. It's with DOJ.

"Reuters' first reported the story in the middle of the night. We should get some sort of announcement today.

In case you're wondering, BP shares are up 62 percent since the bottom after that well. Isn't that amazing?

BERMAN: That is amazing.

ROMANS: So that was a good investment even as that was a very, very terrible period for the American, you know --

BERMAN: Environment, economy, on and on and on.


ROMANS: -- region, that's right.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Mitt Romney raised eyebrows with his 47 percent comment. That was before the election. Remember that? Wait until you hear what Mitt Romney is saying now, that it is over. That is coming up.


SAMBOLIN: It's on. President Obama launching himself head first into a war of words with some of his sharpest critics.

BERMAN: Stripped. The government yanked security clearance from the woman whose affair brought down the CIA director.

SAMBOLIN: One-on-one with the Oracle -- why Warren Buffett thinks we might survive a plunge over that fiscal cliff.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Happy you're here with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: Great to see you. I'm John Berman. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news from the Middle East this morning. New violence between Israel and Palestinian militants along the Israel/Gaza border. The Israeli military targeting Hamas sites in Gaza.

SAMBOLIN: One of the Israeli strikes capture on this military video. Take a look at your screen right now. The attack on the vehicle took out the top Hamas military commander. Hamas warns that Israel has, quote, "opened the gates of hell."

BERMAN: Other news now, if Republicans are looking for a fight, President Obama says bring it.

The president showing flashes of anger in his first news conference since winning the election, winning, re-election, again, demanding the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes while telling two top Republicans who were threatening to block Susan Rice from becoming the next secretary of state, go after me instead.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian is live from Washington this morning. And Dan, we kind of saw a different President Obama on the podium. He was really aggressive, particularly, on the issue of Susan Rice. LOTHIAN: You're right. I mean, this is not the kind of emotion that we have grown to see from the president. He tends to hold back a bit, not be as emotional. But this was an area where the president came out very strong saying that these attacks from Republicans have simply been unfair.

He called them outrageous. And he said that if they want to point the finger at anyone, they want to attack anyone, they should do it at him. Take a listen.


OBAMA: But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and besmirch her reputation is outrageous. And, you know, we're after an election now.


LOTHIAN: The president also had some very strong words when it came to those Bush era tax cuts saying that he will not extend them for the wealthiest of Americans. He wants a comprehensive plan so that middle class Americans won't be impacted over the long haul and the president believing and saying that even other economists agree as well that wealthy Americans can pay more and still make money, John.

BERMAN: So, Dan, as you say, the president seemed to lay out some outlines, draw some boundaries at least on the issue of taxes. How are Republicans reacting to this?

LOTHIAN: Well, two-fold. I think you see a real sense among Republicans that there are areas of agreement, that they can reach some kind of compromise, but they're pushing back on this notion that there should be taxes raised on any Americans, even the wealthiest of Americans. They say to do that will only stifle growth and will impact any kind of job creation over the long term, John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Dan Lothian in Washington for us this morning.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): It is 32 minutes past the hour. Now, to the latest on the Petraeus sex scandal. Two U.S. officials say his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, no longer has top security clearance.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): They say it is suspended pending the outcome of this ongoing investigation. Also, Petraeus will testify about the Libya embassy attack tomorrow before a closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. It will be his first appearance on Capitol Hill since admitting the affair and resigning last week.

BERMAN (voice-over): At least one prominent Republican is blasting Mitt Romney for claiming the president won re-election by giving gifts to blacks, Hispanics and younger voters. Listen to how the defeated GOP nominee is explaining his loss in this phone call to some of his top donors.


VOICE OF MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then, work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.


BERMAN: Louisiana's Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, says Romney has it all wrong and is not speaking for the entire Republican Party.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: Absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that's absolutely wrong. That is not -- I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party. And I think that has got to be one of the most fundamental type ways in this election.


BERMAN: Governor Jindal is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2016. He says if Republicans plan to rebound from their election loss, they have to stop dividing American voters.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Thirty-four minutes past the hour.

Just 47 days until we hit the fiscal cliff, but billionaire Warren Buffett doesn't see what all the fuss is about. The "Oracle of Omaha" says as long as President Obama holds firm on the wealthiest Americans paying more taxes, we can go right over the cliff without plunging into a recession.

Poppy Harlow sat down for an exclusive interview with the founder of Berkshire Hathaway. He -- boy, Pop! He had a lot to say. I was reading the transcript.


SAMBOLIN: A little shock --

HARLOW: I was shocked when he answered me. And you're going to hear from him in a moment. But you know, he's the only CEO that I know, I was just talking to Christine Romans about this, that holds this position, that maybe we're being too alarmist about the fiscal cliff. He thinks it's a very big deal, a very big problem we need to solve, but he wants the president to take a very hard line.


HARLOW: What is the likelihood of the United States falling into a recession if we go over the cliff? WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I don't think that's going to happen. I think that if we go past January 1st, I don't know, whether it will be January 10th or February 1st,but we are not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along.

HARLOW: Even if we go over for two months, does that dip this economy back into recession?

BUFFETT: I don't think so.

HARLOW: You don't think so. That's interesting because the CBO believes that that.

BUFFETT: Yes. Well -- I mean, you know, we had hurricane Sandy which disrupted the economy for a period. We had Katrina many years ago. There are things that will disrupt the economy. I mean, 9/11, you know, was an extraordinary case. But we have a very resilient economy.

We've had one for hundreds of years. And the fact that they can't get along for the month of January is something that's not going to torpedo the economy.


HARLOW: Now, one of the things he wants to see is significantly, quote, "significantly higher taxes for wealthy Americans." You just heard Dan Lothian talking about it. What does he mean? He told me double capital gains tax. So, 30 percent capital gains on investments, not out of the question at all.

Income tax 50 percent plus, not out of the question. He wants to see a very different tax system than we have right now.

SAMBOLIN: And one of the big problems I thought was really interesting that he said was health care still.


SAMBOLIN: Because he actually called it the tape form of our economy.

HARLOW: I'm so glad you saw that, Zoraida. That was one of the most interesting part to me of the whole interview. He said we spend 2.6 trillion in health care costs. And he actually said he supports President Obama, but he said Obamacare doesn't really change things that much. We still have this huge, looming issue.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And also, apparently, he has a pick for president, 2016.


HARLOW: Do we have to move on to the 2016 election already? Apparently. We were talking about women and the importance he thinks women play in the U.S. economic recovery. He had a lot of opinions on that. And thinks we need more female lawmakers, and then, he had this to say.


HARLOW: What about a female president in 2016?

BUFFETT: I hope so.


BUFFETT: I hope it's Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: You hope it's Hillary Clinton?


HARLOW: I know you supported both her and President Obama in the 2008 race. What is it about Hillary Clinton that you like so much?

BUFFETT: I like what she believes in and I think she's extraordinarily able and energetic for that matter in pushing those bullies. I don't see how you could have anybody better qualified.


HARLOW: Pretty ringing endorsement.

BERMAN: Early endorsement.

HARLOW: Pretty early endorsement. Absolutely, guys.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Poppy Harlow, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour right now. And called out by the prime minister. Coming up, tough words for an American multimillionaire on the run in the midst of a murder investigation.


BERMAN: All right. So, some tough words from the prime minister of Belize to anti-virus software pioneer, John McAfee, calling him bonkers for what he's told the media in the wake of his neighbor's murder and saying (INAUDIBLE), respect our laws, and go in and talk to the police. McAfee's gone into hiding because he says he believed authorities in Belize were trying to frame him for this murder.

Martin Savidge is in Belize this morning. And martin, what are the authorities there telling you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Yes. Well, a lot of people here talking about the comment by the prime minister there, bonkers, and it got quite a chuckle, however, this is an extremely serious matter here as everybody, especially on this island knows. The island, by the way, that we're standing on is the island that John McAfee lives on -- McAfee, rather. Or, it is also the island on which the man, Greg Falls (ph), died, and it has a lot of people here very upset that it is his death that seems to be overlooked in all the zaniness for a lack of a better word in the effort to find McAfee.

The officials here are basically telling us that they have not had a single sighting of McAfee since he went into hiding which is hard to imagine since he has been well very public in all of the communication he's had outside of this country. But they say not a single person has reported seeing him.

This island is relatively small, only about 10,000 people, and yet, he's managed to stay hidden. And they believe he is here. They just don't know exactly where he is. And I asked officials, how -- don't you track his phone conversations? They say they're not sure how he's getting out. They don't know if he's using a cell phone or a land line.

So, basically, they're very frustrated. And as you've already heard from the prime minister, they think that his mental state of mind is a real problem here, and they're worried about it. Although, they will stress, when I asked them, they do not think he's dangerous, John.

BERMAN: All right. Martin Belize -- Martin Savidge in Belize this morning with a really great reminder that there is a death here and it is a very serious matter. Thanks a lot, Martin.

SAMBOLIN: It is 42 minutes past the hour. Waking up to storms in the Carolinas. Rob Marciano back with that for us. Good morning to you.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Yes. Not only storms but some rain and some chilly air. As a matter of fact, some freezing rain advisories out parts of the higher country of South Carolina, but Columbia getting heavy rain with some lightning, obviously, here as well. Charleston up through Myrtle Beach, you're getting some rain.

But that that is really about it, maybe across the upper Midwest we're seeing just a little bit of a light rainfall as well. Temperatures are certainly chilly. We're looking at 30s and 40s across the south. Thirty-eight degrees in Memphis, 42 in Atlanta. So, that's a see your breath kind of morning. Twenty-eight in Nashville. And across he northeast, been a chilly November, hasn't it?

Thirty-six degrees in New York City, 26 degrees up in Albany, and 35 in Boston. We will rebound a little bit over the next couple days, but generally, speaking at or slightly below average with temps getting back into the 50s for Friday and Saturday, but back into 40s on Sunday.

A daytime highs today, 50 degrees in Chicago, if you're traveling out to San Francisco 66, 44 in Denver, 62 degrees in Kansas City. The weather map fairly quiet outside of this little disturbance that's rolling across parts of the Carolinas. It will be mild and quiet across parts of the central plains and the Pacific Northwest. Getting into a pretty sloppy pattern there if you're traveling to Portland or Seattle. This is the time of year, the next couple of weeks are typically the wettest of the season and in a pretty wet spot. So, bring along the umbrella and the rain gear if you're heading up towards Portland or Seattle.

San Francisco looks to be nice but rather cool. That's the latest from here, guys. You, guys, are looking dry out there in the Big Apple, but a little fall crisp in the air for sure.

SAMBOLIN: Indeed. We will agree with that. Thank you so much, Rob.

BERMAN: All right, Rob. Forty-four minutes after the hour right now.

And ace is high. I love this story. Coming up, the two men who just grabbed one of baseball's biggest awards and why they couldn't be more different from each other.

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


SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good morning again, you two.


ROMANS (voice-over): This could mean war. In Gaza, Palestinians are retaliating for Israel's assassination of the top Hamas military commander. At least three people have been killed in militant rocket attacks into Southern Israel. Meantime, Israeli warplanes are pounding Gaza, targeting Palestinian launch and infrastructure sites.

A murder indictment, and perhaps, the country's most infamous missing child case. Pedro Hernandez is accused of kidnapping and murdering Etan Patz. The six-year-old boy disappeared back in 1979. He was the first missing child ever to appear on a milk carton. The indictment alleges Hernandez lured the boy into his basement and killed him there. He was arrested back in may after confessing.

President Obama says he's open to new ideas, but any budget deal has to include higher taxes on the very wealthiest Americans. In his first press conference since winning re-election, the president also issued a challenge to top Republican senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, threatening to block Susan Rice from becoming the next secretary of state over her handling of the Benghazi terror attack.

The president says instead of targeting the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., McCain and Graham should, quote, "go after me."

Maine's new senator-elect, Angus King, confirms he will caucus with Democrats, but he plans to maintain his political independence. King run as an independent and said he'd like to be a bridge between the two parties. His decision to caucus with Democrats gives the party a 55-45 advantage in the Senate.

Kings of the Hill! The New York Mets, R.A. Dickey, wins the 2012 Cy Young Awards for the National League. Dickey is the first knuckleballer to win the award. He was the Mets first 20-game winner in more than two decades.

In the American league, a fireballer, not a knuckleballer, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays won the award. Price tied for the A.L. lead with 20 wins. He just barely edged out defending Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander.


BERMAN: The R.A. Dickey story is fantastic. You know what a knuckleball is. A knuckleballer is this magical, mystical pitch. You don't go hard. It kind of flatters through the air. It's like --

ROMANS (on-camera): Hard the hit.

BERMAN: hard the hit, but only a very few people do it. They do it in the old age. No one has ever won the Cy Young throwing mostly knuckleballs. I mean, Dickey is like 38. He's been kicked (ph) around the league --


BERMAN: It's just such a nice, wonderful story.

ROMANS: Awesome.

BERMAN: So, good for him.

All right. It is 50 minutes after the hour right now. We have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START, including Homeland Security Committee chair, Peter King, weighs in on whistleblower in the Petraeus scandal. He's angry over the FBI's handling of the case also. And what he thinks needs to be done to avoid hitting the fiscal cliff.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, caught on tape. A woman dressed as a nurse tries to steal an infant. Look at this, by stashing the baby in her purse. Now, she's explaining why she did it from behind bars.

BERMAN: All right. And remember this story from yesterday, the Cleveland Judge who ordered a driver to hold an idiot sign for driving on the sidewalk around a day care bus speaks out on her unusual punishment. We'll hear what she had to say.

SAMBOLIN: Didn't I say let's invite her on to our show so that they can chat about this. Well, no. Apparently, nobody did.

BERMAN: We're going to hear her. So, it's almost as good.

SAMBOLIN: All right. But first, Thursday the new Friday? Thousands of haters going to hate on the 'tween who's being called the next Rebecca Black. Her new Thanksgiving song, oh, no, it's coming up next.

BERMAN: Yes. Oh, no.



SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-four minutes past the hour.

A rush too much. Listen to this. According to "The New York Times", records from the Food and Drug Administration show that those Five- Hour Energy shots that you see on the counters almost everywhere, they have been linked to 13 deaths and 30 life-threatening incidents. This is since 2008.

The life-threatening incidents include heart attacks, convulsions, and at least one spontaneous abortion. This is according to "The Times." This comes a month after the FDA says Monster energy drinks were linked to five deaths.

BERMAN: That's all bad.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I would say so, Berman.

BERMAN: That is all bad.

SAMBOLIN: Good conclusion there.

BERMAN: All right now. By George. This is in "The Washington Post." "U.S. News and World Report" has removed George Washington University from its best college listings after the school admitted it had overstated the academic and credentials of incoming freshmen.

The school was 51 on the list which is a go to source for many parents and high school grads. What kind of message is that sending to the student? Don't cheat kids, but we cheat.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, exactly.

All right. Now to its trending on the web. Going heels over head. It is being called one of the all-time great soccer goals.

BERMAN: It is an awesome goal. It comes from Sweden (INAUDIBLE). You can see it there. There is a bicycle kick from like 30 yards out. It stunned the announcer, shocked the crowd. I think he was surprised, himself. Look at that.

SAMBOLIN: Why do guys take off their shirts when --

BERMAN: No, no --

SAMBOLIN: Why? I said why --

BERMAN: It's a big soccer thing. It's a big soccer thing. And he certainly deserved to take off his shirt after that goal.


BERMAN: You know what, he scored four goals in this game, all four of Sweden's goals in this game, which is really unusual in soccer, like hitting like ten home runs in one baseball game. Look at that goal, it is just amazing. Fantastic.

SAMBOLIN: It is. And I didn't mean to belittle the fact that he did that, but I still don't get the whole take your shirt off.

BERMAN: And he took his shirt off.

SAMBOLIN: I know that they do it in soccer. I just -- my question is why.

BERMAN: They're hot.

SAMBOLIN: All right.


SAMBOLIN: There are going to be haters, a lot of haters, from the people who brought you Rebecca Black. Meet 12-year-old Nicole Westbrook.




SAMBOLIN: Do you like this one, Berman?

BERMAN: No. I like the frozen vegetables. Who puts frozen vegetables in a music video?


BERMAN: What is that about?

SAMBOLIN: How do you like it.

BERMAN: I'm not going to weigh in on that. I like it more in soccer when they score goals.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Her new mega-viral hit about Thanksgiving. It's the same producers who had a similar Internet hit, do you remember, with "Friday." Discovered Nicole. The official video has more than seven million hits in seven days along with 15,000 likes versus 110,000 dislikes, I might add.

BERMAN: Maybe there is no explanation sometimes for the Internet. Check out other top CNN trends like this exciting one, head to SAMBOLIN: Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. The Petraeus sex scandal getting big laughs on late night TV. Jay Leno compared the drama to high school and asked a teenager to break it down. The bit got lots of -- or the big, that is, got lots of LOLS. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So, this General David who is so famous that this lady Paula was like writing his bio, and she was like are you DTF. And he was like I'm a way DTF. And they started hooking up. Then, Paula freaked out because this Florida party lady, Jill, was also e-mailing General David.

So, Paula e-mailed Jill and was like (INAUDIBLE). So, Jill was all, whatever! I'm on that. I'm telling my FBI BFF. But, Jill's FBI BFF was totes crushing on her and sending her these gross photos of him shirtless like he's Taylor Lautner.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": So, I'm trying to take a look at this Petraeus case and figured out. You have -- we have two four-star generals involved here, several women involved. One set of twins and a guy, a shirtless guy from the FBI.


LETTERMAN: And I'm -- I mean, don't you miss the simplicity of the Clinton years?



SAMBOLIN: That's pretty funny.

BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, boy.