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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

10 People Injured In Bus Explosion; Explosion On Bus In Tel Aviv; New Push For Peace; Egypt's President A Key Player; "Macho" Camacho Shot; Back to Bankruptcy Court

Aired November 21, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news here on this Wednesday morning. You are looking at live pictures, Tel Aviv, the aftermath of an explosion on the street involving a bus. Clearly, it's still a fresh scene.

The bus is still roped off with crime tape as you see all the emergency responders sent in, swooping in. We know that ten people have been injured, three of them critically, two moderately. This is all what we're getting from folks in Israel there on the ground.

We have a correspondent in a hospital where some of these victims are being treated. We're going to go to her as soon as we can establish that connection there in Tel Aviv.

But keep in mind, this is a major, major city in Israel. This is a new level of violence. We've been seeing the rockets back and forth as this conflict has been escalating between Gaza.

Here's another picture of the bus, and between Israel, and now, to see this happening, on the streets, is a new level.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And sometimes when you have seen bus explosions, you've seen then a secondary explosion later. So first responders being very, very careful to make sure there aren't any other explosions that happen as they're trying to take care of the people who are there, to get them to a hospital, ten injured, but still a very tense and nerve-racking scene there.

BALDWIN: Let's continue this conversation as we stay on these live pictures and bring in Fred Pleitgen. He is in Ashkelon, Israel. But Fred, I want to ask you about what we're seeing here in Tel Aviv. What more are you learning as far as this bus explosion goes?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, we're monitoring Israeli media. We're obviously also talking to the spokes people of the Israeli police and the Israeli Defense Forces and they're telling us that, indeed, this bus explosion happened in downtown Tel Aviv.

Right now the big thing that everyone is trying to establish is what actually happened there. How did this bus explode? Where was this explosive charge? There's some talk by several eyewitnesses that we're hearing on Israeli military radio who said that they saw a man running towards the bus, throwing a bag or something into the bus, and then running away.

And that's where the explosion or when the explosion happened. That certainly appears to be a real possibility, and as you said, at this point in time it's still very early in the game so there are police on the scene who are scanning the surrounding areas to search for, as you said, possible secondary explosive devices.

That might be there, also Israeli media, of course, informing people about that possible danger. And the first responders there trying to get people who are not involved in any sort of rescue operation or helping people to get out of that area, as well.

It is, of course, cordoned off around that bus as we see the wreckage of that bus standing there in that very main street in Central Tel Aviv. The windows, as you can see, have been badly damaged. Some of the windows have been blown out on the sides.

The front window badly damaged, as well. As you can see there are many first responders there on the scene, of course, also a bomb squad on the scene to look again for those secondary devices.

But to also see whether there's any remnants of explosives from that first explosive device that might not have gone off that could also injure people, as well. So, a scene I wouldn't describe as chaotic.

The first responders know what they're doing. There have been bus bombings in Israel in the past. The last one was about maybe a little over a year ago. It happened in Jerusalem at a bus station there.

But it's not something that is new in Israel. But certainly within this conflict, you're absolutely right, it is a new level of violence hitting Israel's largest city -- Christine.

BALDWIN: Fred, this is Brooke, actually. Let me keep this conversation going because from what I can tell, and what you're mentioning, the information coming in to us.

No one yet is claiming responsibility, but in talking to a Middle East guest, scholar last hour, he said the next thing to watch for, Fred, is possible retaliation on the side of Israel. How likely might that be? What might that look like?

PLEITGEN: Well, that can certainly happen. One of the other things, of course, Brooke, sorry about that, by the way, one of the other things that could happen is that this also derails any sort of truce negotiations that are going on between Israel and Hamas and other factions in Gaza.

They're trying to stop the bombings that are going on here and the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and also the bombings in Gaza, as well. And retaliation from the Israeli side would probably be increased bombings on targets in Gaza. Of course, that's a military operation that's going on, the next phase of escalation for that would probably then be a ground invasion. But we're still very far away from that. The Israeli government has so far not made any sort of statements in that direction. Something like that might be impending.

We'll have to wait and see what sort of reactions there could be. You're absolutely right. So far there is no claim of responsibility just yet. There have been tweets, actually, from Hamas saying that they bless this operation, but certainly they are not saying that it was them who carried this out -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: As soon as you get any more information or when we hear reaction from Israel, obviously, or Hamas, Fred Pleitgen we'll bring you back here live from Israel. Fred, thank you.

ROMANS: So the high stakes diplomacy moves to Egypt now. Secretary of State Clinton to meet with President Mohamed Morsy, he could play a critical role in getting a peace deal between Hamas and Israel.

CNN's Reza Sayah is live in Cairo. Good morning, Reza. I'm wondering from your perspective there in Cairo how this latest explosion in Tel Aviv may complicate the hard work ahead for Secretary Clinton and Mohamed Morsy? What does it mean for talks and hopes for a ceasefire?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means there's more urgency. It means that the violence is escalating. I think the spotlight is going to be on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is now in the region.

If you think you have a busy day today consider Mrs. Clinton's itinerary. This morning she met with U.N Secretary of State General Ban Ki-Moon in Jerusalem, 9:30 a.m. met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, 11:00 a.m. she met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem again.

And now, she's on her way here to Cairo. All in an effort to see what we can do, what Washington can do, to establish a cease-fire. Whenever these conflicts flare up in the Middle East, Washington wants to be seen as playing a major role.

But the problem with Washington's role is they have no relationship with Hamas. Obviously, Washington considers Hamas a terrorist organization and that is probably why it's been easier over the past several days, but has really emerged as playing the role of lead peacemaker.

They obviously have strong links with Hamas. Hamas was borne out of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt also has a peace deal with Israel, and they have promised to honor. Yesterday, of course, Egypt, officials here very optimistic, the President Mohamed Morsy saying a ceasefire would happen on Tuesday.

Christine, obviously, that is not the case. Violence now, the latest apparent bus attack in Tel Aviv appears to be escalating.

ROMANS: All right, Reza Sayah in Cairo. We'll check in with you then very, very soon. Reza, thank you.

Ahead at 6:30 Eastern, Stuart Holiday joins us. He is the head of the Meridian International Center. It's a public diplomacy group who works with the State Department.

And next hour on "STARTING POINT," Soledad talks with Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev.

BALDWIN: A brush with death for former boxing great Hector "Macho" Camacho. The 50-year-old Camacho was shot in his face and neck just outside of this bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Police say a second man was killed in that shooting. Camacho is in the hospital in serious condition and doctors say the bullet damaged two vertebrae in Camacho's neck. He may have trouble, they say, walking again.

ROMANS: The company that makes Wonder Bread is toast. Hostess brands heads back to bankruptcy court today after a last-ditch mediation effort with the bakers union failed.

The bankruptcy judge had ordered the talks to try to save more than 18,000 jobs at this company. Several companies expressed an interest in buying the brand, and the recipes, but Brooke, workers, the workers will be out of work.

BALDWIN: And the puppeteer who gave Elmo his voice for a generation is off the street, Sesame Street here. Kevin Clash quitting in the wake of his lawsuit that claims he sexually abused a teenage boy.

All of this news here comes just a week after another accuser made a similar claim before recanting. Here's what we're hearing from Sesame Workshop.

They issued this statement, quote, "Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want." This is a sad day for Sesame Street.

ROMANS: Meantime, we're monitoring the situation in the Middle East specifically in Central Tel Aviv, where a bus explosion has sent ten people to the hospital, three with very serious injuries.

What it means for the very nascent talks about trying to get a ceasefire. The Secretary of State is on her way to meet with Mohamed Morsy of Egypt. We'll have the latest on all that for you just after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: It's 12 minutes past the hour here on a Wednesday morning. You're looking at pictures of the bombed-out bus in the busy streets of Tel Aviv, Israel. As we've been watching here, the tensions, the violence escalating now, a new level of violence has hit the streets and hit a bus.

Ten injured, three critically, two moderately that's the latest information we're getting there from the ground. Let's go to Sara Sidner. She is our senior international correspondent en route to the hospital in Tel Aviv.

Sara, good morning and tell me what you're learning about this explosion.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I just arrived on the scene just now. The police have blocked of the road. I can see the bus, and the windows blown out. We do know that at this point there are ten people who have been moderately injured.

Three of those moderately injured, five people injured, two are suffering from shocks. It happened very close to a hospital, which is obviously a good thing for the people inside, the victims inside because they could get them to the hospital very, very quickly.

We also got the word that there was a blast. We were in a different hospital, and they went into emergency mode waiting for the possibility of many patients. So for what I can see is that it's very close, this blast happening in a bus very close to the Defense Department.

The Defense Department on the road right next to it, you can see the building, as you look down from the building on the streets you can actually see the bus there. So there's a lot of concern about this.

Because as you know, they were talking about the possibility of a peace agreement or some sort of a ceasefire, some sort of a truce, and to have this blast happen, you know, no one can tell yet.

But depending on the circumstances that surround who may have done this, this may really put a damper on the possibility of a ceasefire and truce.

And there are a lot of people in big cities who have been through these blasts before over the year and it really ratchets up the fear factor in people worrying that they cannot go about their daily lives without worrying about something exploding in the city. BALDWIN: Sara, this is Brooke, let me ask you one more question. We were just talking to your colleague, Fred Pleitgen, who is farther away in a different part of Israel and he was listening to Israeli military radio.

And these are just initial reports that there was a man seen running toward the bus, black clothing, tossed a bag in the bus, and ran away. Are you hearing anything like that?

SIDNER: No, because we just got to the scene.

BALDWIN: OK.

SIDNER; That, you know, the was in that we're getting is there was someone that they thought they might have seen either someone throw something into the bus, or somebody who, you know, may have been on the bus. They're trying to figure out if this was a suicide bomber who blew themselves up, or if this was somebody who threw something on the bus or left something on the bus that exploded.

It is very tentative right now. The investigation is under way. The bomb squad is on the scene. The forensics team is on the scene. There are lots of vehicles surrounding the scene.

But we do know that -- on the bus when this happened. Sorry for the breaking part. I'm running right now because the police are telling us that we have to run past the military. So -- but, the scene, you know, it's very chaotic. As you might imagine, I'm hearing another siren now.

ROMANS: Sara, we're going to let you get --

SIDNER: We're also hearing a possibility of another blast somewhere in the city. So, we want to check that out to see if that is indeed true, another unconfirmed reports right now.

ROMANS: Sara, we're going to let you move away as the police are telling you to, clearly, because, look, there is a protocol for bus explosions in Israel, because they have happened before, and there are real concerns about secondary explosions, and secondary terrorist attacks after -- after the initial bus explosion.

So please, please be very careful and do, you know, stay out of the -- out of harm's way if you can.

I want to go to Gaza City, Ben Wedeman is there. He is in Gaza City.

Ben, what do you -- what is the reaction on the ground there, as news of this bus explosion in central Tel Aviv reaches where you are?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We actually heard a nearby mosque announcing that this attack had taken place. The mosque loudspeaker was saying that, quote/unquote, "lions (ph) from the West Bank were behind the attack." And it seemed to be claiming the attack on behalf of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which is the military wing of the Hamas movement.

However, on Al-Aqsa television, which is affiliated with Hamas, they said that it was -- they said Hamas blessed the operation, and said it was a natural reaction to what's going on in Gaza. So not a clear claim of responsibility. We did hear a certain amount of what sounded like celebratory gunfire not far from here.

What I am noticing is that since news came out of this attack in Tel Aviv, that the amount of traffic and people in the street s which is never a lot these days, seems to have reduced significantly, because apart from some mosque loud speakers, praising and celebrating this attack in Tel Aviv, I think most people in -- Palestinians in Gaza, are aware that if that kind of attack happens, they will quickly hear a response from Israel.

The morning has been relatively quiet. The night was quite loud with a lot of air strikes, and the worry is that those might start up again now. ROMANS: From your perspective, covering this and other flare-ups and conflicts between these two parties, what does this mean for these nations of peace talks? I mean, we've been talking about -- trying to agree to a quiet period to agree to a cease-fire. We've got the Secretary of State on her way to have a meeting, another meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and then a meeting with Mohamed Morsi of Egypt.

What -- how does this complicate talks of a cease-fire?

WEDEMAN: Well, there's a potentially huge complication, because when there are things like attacks in Tel Aviv, that really does put a lot of pressure on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to take a fairly hard stance, to insist that he should, perhaps, launch this much- feared ground invasion of Gaza. It makes it -- wildly complicates the situation, and certainly one can only interpret the bombing in Tel Aviv as a real provocation to really basically saying bring it on, which is something that I think most people in Gaza would be aghast at. It's now eight days that normal life has been completely disrupted.

There were hopes yesterday evening that we were on the verge of some de-escalation of this crisis. A bombing in Tel Aviv only reverses that process and presents the possibility of this conflict just getting worse.

ROMANS: Ben Wedeman in Gaza City. We'll check with you again very soon.

BALDWIN: But just to underscore what Ben, you know, has been saying. And again, he's a veteran journalist in this part of the world for years and years and years, and the fact that this bus explosion could usually complicate this potential for, you know, peace talks and sort of resolutions is huge.

As you mention, Secretary of State again talking with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and underscoring also the role of Egypt, really, that is playing a central role in this peacekeeping mission. So we're all over the story for you this morning.

ROMANS: And coming up, as well, we're going to talk about oil prices, and how that could affect us here in the U.S. if the crisis deepens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right. Take a look at your screen here. Take a pause. Put the coffee down as we're getting ready, or perhaps you are getting ready to hop on a plane to have some turkey tomorrow, there are some airport delays already. Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Portland. Just a quick heads up for you as you start your day.

ROMANS: Yes, check -- you know what? Log on in for those text checks to make sure --

BALDWIN: Love that, get that on your phone. ROMANS: Don't be in the car before you find out that there's dense fog in Chicago and St. Louis because you're going to be waiting in an airport.

All right. I'm minding your business.

U.S. stock futures are slightly lower, almost flat basically. Fighting in the Middle East helping fuel volatility in stocks and also the oil market. The price for light sweet crude oil up nearly 1 percent in electronic trading this morning and no surprise there. When you see tensions flare in the Middle East you often see oil prices rising.

Meantime, European finance ministers failing to meet an agreement on the next bailout for Greece. After meeting for twelve hours in Brussels late into the night, they could not finalize the terms for the next $38 billion bailout package. Greece needs this money to stay in the European Union and to avoid bankruptcy.

And the one thing you need to know about your money today, 40 days, 17 hours and change until the fiscal cliff. Those looming tax hikes and spending cuts will continue to weigh on the markets until Congress and the White House reach a final agreement.

You know, earlier this week, Brooke, there was a big rally in the stock market, there was optimism that all of the signs were there the fiscal cliff was going to get fixed. Don't mess it up.

BALDWIN: Well, as we've been talking so much fiscal cliff, and we know the President has been on this swing in Southeast Asia, he dispatched the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East to help broker peace, hopefully, that may now be slowed because of this potential huge complication, this bus blast.

Here are pictures, glass windows shattered in the middle of the city. Ten injured. We're getting new information here out of Tel Aviv, as tensions really rising in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROMANS: Bringing to you breaking news of a bus explosion in central Tel Aviv. Ten people injured, three very seriously. They have secured the scene. A calm scene, we're told by Fred Pleitgen.

Sara Sidner is there and she has been talking to officials. She is looking at the wreckage and talking to witnesses.

Sara, what are they telling you now about what they think happened here on this bus?

SIDNER (via telephone): OK. So we just heard from police, chief of police also, OK. Everyone is running from this area. The chief of police has been talking but what we do know is that there was -- they now believe it was not a suicide bomber on the bus, but, in fact, a package left on the bus potentially, and, OK -- hold on.

We've got a helicopter overhead and there's a lot of people that are running from the scene of the bus. We see right now, windows blown out on the bus completely, all of them blown out. This is quite a large bus, the number 61 bus.

They are stopping people. There are emergency people now running, and I mean sprinting --

ROMANS: Sara --

SIDNER: We're going to head to that area to find out what's going on.

But there is definitely something else going on, just down the street from the bus. We're going to go there now.