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Fiscal Cliff Looms; 911 Tapes in Belcher Death; NYC Subway Pushing Death

Aired December 5, 2012 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The manhunt is the over for the man accused of pushing another man in front of an incoming subway train. Coming up, brand new video of the men arguing on the subway platform. "The New York Post" cover that has the paper in hot water this morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, we now have the 911 tapes in the alleged murder/suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher.

ROMANS: And we're now 10 days away from Congress going on break and still no approved plan to keep us from going over the fiscal cliff. Broken record, broken record. Groundhog Day.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, in today for John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Wednesday, December 5th, and it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, let's get started here.

Up first, President Obama standing his ground in the fight over the fiscal cliff. Americans face crushing tax hikes and severe spending cuts in 27 days if Democrats and Republicans cannot come together on a deal. And, by the way, Congress breaks for the holidays in 10 days. So, slash that number.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, the President made it crystal clear he's not about to blink on the issue of tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up. And we're not going to be able to get a deal without it.


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

Very nice to see you, Dan. DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you.

SAMBOLIN: So, here's the deal. We have Republicans pitted against Democrats. But, now, we understand that there are issues amongst Republicans as well.

LOTHIAN: That's right. And, you know, they're in a tough spot here because they don't want to be in left in a position of being blamed for the fiscal cliff. But you're seeing a division among Republicans specifically between House members and Senate members. And the reason for this is mainly over the $800 billion in new tax revenue.

This was part of John Boehner and plan. Those Tea Party-backed conservatives say this is something that would help job growth. So, some of them are outright rejecting this, and clearly, what we're seeing here is Republicans are not speaking with one voice.


SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Republicans should not be conceding that the federal government needs more money, negotiating with ourselves and treating the President's proposal like it's serious.

REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Look, I support the speaker and we're actually not very far apart on anything. And, you know, at the end of the day, he's going to negotiate a dead. If there is an area that we do agree with the President on that is 98 percent of the American people are getting about 80 percent of this tax cut shouldn't have their taxes raised. My suggestion was, let's take the one area we agree and take it off the table.


LOTHIAN: But, Zoraida, as you saw there from the President earlier in that Bloomberg interview, he is digging in, saying that there can't be a deal unless upper income Americans pay more. Middle-class Americans should get that Bush era tax cut extension. He is not backing down from that at all. The President saying in that interview that he's not being stubborn, he's not being partisan but rather that it's, quote, "a matter of math."

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dan, we've been talking now for a while that Americans blame Republicans if a deal doesn't go through. But new polling shows that Americans are also pessimistic a deal will be reached at all. So, break down those numbers for us.

LOTHIAN: The tune that we're seeing now from not only the White House but also members up on Capitol Hill where they once were very optimistic that a deal would get done, now, there's more pessimistic about a deal getting done. So this is reflected in that poll when people were asked whether or not they thought this deal would get done, 49 percent said no, 40 percent said yes.

So clearly more people pessimistic here than optimistic that a deal would get done. And as to what the tactic should be behind the decision of these lawmakers, 62 percent say let's just reach an agreement, only 25 percent say stick to your principles.

So, we know that some of the conservatives out there who don't want to back down, they want to stick to their principles. But those being asked in this poll say let's get the deal done, worry about the principle later.

SAMBOLIN: One more thing I want to talk to you about. The President and Speaker Boehner haven't met for a week, right? But they did attend the same Christmas party on Monday. And I understand they didn't even speak to each other.

Do you know anything about that?

LOTHIAN: They did not. You know, what happens is that all the lawmakers, they go to this holiday party. They line up, they get a chance to exchange a few words with the President, and they get that photo.

It did not happen, usually does happen, John Boehner gets the photo-op with the President. He did not do it this time. Aides on both sides up on Capitol Hill and at the White House are trying to downplay there's any problem here.

But, look, the President was asked about this yesterday. Take a listen to what he had to say in that interview.


REPORTER: Speaker Boehner was here at the White House last night for a Christmas party. The two of you didn't even speak. What's it going to take to get the two of you in a room to hash this out?

OBAMA: Well, Speaker Boehner and I speak frequently. And, you know, I think the issue right now --

REPOTER: When, when will the two of you sit down in a room?

OBAMA: I don't think the issue right now has to do with sitting in a room.



LOTHIAN: Hmmm, I wonder if this relationship is a little frosty or not. One thing I can tell you is that both sides cannot agree on what's going on behind the scenes, because Jay Carney is saying that the conversations continue, but I was hearing from members up on Capitol Hill, aides to members on Capitol Hill who were saying behind the scenes, no phone calls, no e-mails, no smoke signals. There's nothing going on.

So, it's unclear how they'll move the ball forward if they aren't talking.

SAMBOLIN: You know, a couple of days ago, Christine Romans was in Washington, D.C. And she said the exact same thing, that typically you're having conversations behind closed doors but nothing.

LOTHIAN: Nothing.

SAMBOLIN: Which is very worrisome, I would say, Dan.

LOTHIAN: I know, I know.

SAMBOLIN: We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks.

LOTHIAN: OK. Thank you.

ROMANS: Authorities in Kansas City releasing 911 calls in the alleged murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher. The first call made by Belcher's frantic mother after finding her son's girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, shot and barely breathing. The couple's infant daughter can be heard crying in the background.



DISPATCHER: Is she bleeding?

CALLER: Yes, she is.

DISPATCHER: Where is she bleeding from?

CALLER: I can't tell. In the back it looks like.

DISPATCHER: OK. We don't want -- go ahead, P.D.

Where is your son at?

CALLER: He left.


CALLER: Please, just get an ambulance here, please.

DISPATCHER: We're on the way. Where is your son at?

CALLER: He left.



DISPATCHER: They were arguing and he shot her.

CALLER: Yes, yes, they were arguing.

DISPATCHER: What's your son's name?

CALLER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) please just get the ambulance here.

DISPATCHER: Ma'am -- CALLER: I have to get the baby.


ROMANS: Belcher drove to Arrowhead Stadium where police say he fatally shot himself in a parking lot of the Chiefs practice facility after thanking his coaches.

A second call coming from the stadium.


CALLER: Hello. We need a code one ambulance although they think he's probably dead. Number 1 Arrowhead Drive, the practice field at the (INAUDIBLE) stadium. It's a self-inflicted shooting. They said it's a done deal. They've got a player that shot himself.


ROMANS: Police say the Chiefs knew Belcher and Perkins were having relationship problems and they provided them with counseling, provided the couple with counseling in an effort to help. Just a tragic ending to that story.

SAMBOLIN: Seven minutes past the hour.

At least 59 police officers in Brazil arrested on corruption charges. They're accused of taking bribes from drug dealers and from gangs. The arrest, part of Operation Purification. It is Brazil's effort to slash crime before the city of Rio hosts the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

ROMANS: After eight days out on strike, workers at ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are heading back to the docks this morning. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made the announcement late Tuesday night. It came just hours after federal mediators arrived from Washington to assess with the talks. The union representing 800 clerical works went out on strike last week. Dock workers refused to cross their picket lines. Union negotiators now have a contract proposal they'll take to their members. The strike cost the U.S. an estimated $1 billion a day.

SAMBOLIN: Typhoon Bopha tearing up the Philippines. The deadly storm packing 110-mile-an-hour winds. It's triggering flooding, landslides in the southern part of the country. At least 77 people have been killed. Dozens of buildings there are destroyed and the death toll is expected to climb higher.

Officials in the Philippines fear typhoon Bopha could be just as devastating as a storm that killed over 1,200 people in the region. And that was just last year.

And here in the United States, we're getting our own helping of bad weather. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us this morning live from Atlanta.

Good morning, Karen.


Yes, we've seen four storms in just about a week. They have really pumped in that moisture across the West Coast. What now has been the pineapple express, this long fetch of moisture that's aimed at the West Coast, in some cases produced as much as two feet of rainfall. And now we're looking at more of a northerly component that's moving in here.

But still a number of rivers across portions of Oregon and into California, they are looking at readings that will be -- all right, it looks like we have a little difficulty taking place here. But right now, we've got some of that moisture aimed at the West Coast. As a result, we could see a couple more inches of rain.

Take a look at this. The rain falls all the day from San Francisco up to Portland, into Seattle.

Take a look at Portland. We've got some pictures coming out of this region over the last 24 hours. They're looking at a couple more inches of rainfall before it's all said and done. But they had a boulder fall on the highway from Florence to Eugene, Oregon. It took a couple hours.

Now, this tree landed on the home. We don't have the reports of injuries or damage there. But then, Christine, Zoraida, it looks like for places like Chicago, they're expecting those temperatures to drop from the 60s into the 30s. So, now, it looks like winter is going to arrive.

SAMBOLIN: My mom in Chicago she's been enjoying the weather. It's very sad to hear that.

ROMANS: The winter in Chicago lasts so long. Once it comes, it's there until May.


ROMANS: Thanks, Karen.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ten minutes past the hour.

New twists in the whereabouts of John McAfee. The computer security pioneer turned up yesterday in Guatemala. And his attorney said McAfee will seek asylum there.

McAfee disappeared from his home in neighboring Belize weeks ago. He went into hiding weeks ago. That followed the murder of his next door neighbor.

McAfee insists he had nothing to do with that crime. Police in Belize said he is not a suspect but they would like to talk to him.

ROMANS: In Egypt, four satellite TV channels go dark today in solidarity with anti-government protesters. Thousands protested outside the Presidential palace yesterday, breaking barbed wire and throwing chairs and rocks at police. They're angry at actions taken by their new president, Mohamed Morsi. Two weeks ago, he issued an edict expanding his own powers and he's behind a new draft constitution that protesters believe is an attempt by Morsi to consolidate even more power.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to leave. He's not our president anymore.


ROMANS: Egyptians get a chance to vote on the draft constitution on December 15th.

SAMBOLIN: NATO foreign administrators approved Turkey's request for Patriot missiles to defend its borders. That move is meant to shore up Turkey's air defense against violence that spills over from Syria's civil war.

Back in October, errant Syrian artillery shells hit a Turkey border town, killing five Turkish civilians.

ROMANS: Royal Mom-To-Be Kate Middleton is said to be feeling better, but she isn't out of the hospital yet. Prince William spent hours at her side as she recovers from extreme morning sickness. A royal spokesman says they are immensely grateful for the good wishes they have received.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you don't have to live in New York to be disturbed by this story. A man pushed on to the subway tracks into the path of an oncoming train. The crime is horrible, but the images of the man's final moments laid out in a newspaper for everyone to see is sparking outrage.


SAMBOLIN: It is 15 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

New York City police say the suspect being questioned for allegedly pushing a man into the path of an oncoming subway train has implicated himself in the crime. The horrific incident happened on Monday, and "The New York Post" is taking a lot of heat for publishing a front page photo that shows the victim just moments before he was fatally struck by the train.

CNN's Mary Snow is following the story for us.



MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why exactly these men were fighting is unclear. But moments after this video obtained by the New York Police was recorded, 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han, whose face is obscured, was pushed onto the tracks, police say, by the man yelling at him.

A subway barreling through the station killed Han with horrified onlookers unable to save him.

NIGEL GRANT, WITNESS: I know they was keep arguing and -- with each other and stuff. And I've seen people trying to flag the train down before the train got to him.

SNOW (on camera): The fight happened around 12:30 in the afternoon on this platform that's only about ten feet wide. A doctor who was on the platform says that the victim was trying to protect people that he didn't know. And she says that many people tried to help him by alerting subway personnel.

The victim was struck, and she says she performed three to four minutes of chest compressions on him, but it was too late.

(voice-over): One eyewitness describes the train coming to an abrupt stop three quarters into the station.

PATRICK GOMEZ, WITNESS: People are just standing in fear and shock not knowing what's going on. Some people started running out of the platform. You know, other people just stood there and really didn't know what was going on.

SNOW: The suspect, meantime, was able to slip out of the station into Times Square. And police canvassed the area with his image, placed on wanted posters placed in the streets.

But it was another image in this cruel killing that has sparked an uproar. This is one of several photographs published by "The New York Post" of Han facing the train seconds before his death. "The Post" quotes the photographer saying he tried to warn the train operator by running towards him firing off his camera flash.

But online, there were public comments of disgust: "Wow, enough time to take a few pictures. Why didn't the person help?" "What an age we live in, when getting the picture is more important. I am appalled."

(on camera): We reached out to the photographer and "The New York Post," but both decline our request for comment. As for Han, he was among the more than 5 million people who ride the New York City subways on any given day. Police tell us he was on his way to the Korean consulate to get his passport renewed.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


ROMANS: So shocking. You know, yesterday, when you looked at the front page of the paper yesterday, when we were looking at the papers, you said I can't believe I'm looking at this picture on the front page of a man who is about to die.

SAMBOLIN: Because that's what it said.

ROMANS: Right.

SAMBOLIN: I have "The New York Post" here today, in case you didn't see it. I mean, we've been showing it to you. But here, on the side, this little photo right there was the entire front page cover. It says pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.

And I kept on looking at it thinking no way, are they showing us of a man that is about to get hit by a train. But sure it was.

But we have this morning is another picture that I want to share with you, because it is the photographer who took that photo. Here he is in today's newspaper and the reason that he is in there is because he is explaining why he took that photo. He's getting a lot of criticism from people saying why instead of taking pictures did you not run to try to help that man.

ROMANS: He says out of the corner of his eye he saw a body fly on to the tracks and he held up his camera shooting, running toward it. By his estimation, it was 22 seconds from the minute he saw that out of his corner of his eye to the time the man was hit by the train.

He's saying that the critics are being unfair to him for not doing something, that it was simply not possible, it happened so quickly it simply happened so quickly, he wasn't able to get to him.

SAMBOLIN: Part of the criticism is because the pictures are so good, right? They're so crystal clear. And folks are saying you must have taken time to get your camera set and ready.

His argument is he was outside, he was taking pictures and the camera was already set.

ROMANS: In Times Square. Yes.

SAMBOLIN: It's just a bizarre story. Sad.

ROMANS: All right. It's 20 minutes past the hour. Time for your "Early Reads" -- your local news making national headlines.

From the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," Lockheed Martin has announced the company is planning to move 560 manufacturing jobs from its main facility in Georgia to Ft. Worth, Texas. This hits employees who worked on F-22 Raptors Stealth fighter jets in Marietta. The newspaper reports the move will save the company about $50 million a year. Lockheed has cut about 26,000 jobs over the past three years overall.

The company is warning more jobs could be at risk if we go over the fiscal cliff, since it could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in government business. And I can tell you that all of the defense contractors very nervous about what they're seeing in Washington right now.

SAMBOLIN: And put down the cell phone and the breakfast burrito. KDL-TV reports that the Huron, South Dakota, has approved one of the toughest bans on distracted driving in the country that includes -- listen to this -- a ban on eating while you are driving. If anyone is caught texting and driving, they will be fined $100.

You can get a ticket if you're eating lunch, reading the paper or putting on your make-up in the mirror. I'm in trouble -- make-up and eating.

ROMANS: All right.

For an expanded look at all of our stories, head to our blog, We're right back.


ROMANS: Minding your business this morning.

Stock futures are up. You know, we're going to get some economic data over the next few days that hopefully will put the fiscal cliff uncertainty behind us, because that's been a real problem for stocks as we wait to get that resolved.

We're going to get an update on the health of the labor market. The ADP employment report comes out at 8:15 Eastern. This is private sector survey of how many jobs were added. Economists surveyed by They expect 125,000 jobs will show up in this report. It's a survey of private sector payrolls only.

We get the real, big, broad update on the jobs market on Friday with the government jobs report. That's the really important one.

U.S. oil production reaching its highest level in nearly 15 years. This is according to a report from the Energy Information Administration daily production average, almost 6.5 million barrels per day in September, the highest level since 1998.

This new EIA report says the increase in production due mostly to the extraction process known as fracking.

You know, there are those who have coined a new phrase, Saudi America for America's projected energy boom over the next decade. A report from last month says the U.S. is expected to unseat Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer by 2020 -- huge implications -- wow, huge implications for foreign policy and how we do business.

It's really been an interesting development in the oil patch.

SAMBOLIN: It will be really nice to talk about something other than the fiscal cliff. I will say that.

ROMANS: Jobs. That's right.

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

Political pundits say the Republican Party needs some new younger blood. Are these the new leaders of the GOP? Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, could they already be on the campaign trail?


SAMBOLIN: Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio -- don't worry, it's not 2016. You are not in a time warp. The two men spoke at a political event last night. We'll hear from them, from both of them, coming up.

ROMANS: Plus, a mom and her children are involved in a horrific crash that lands a car on top of them. But what happened next will revive your faith in people.

SAMBOLIN: And Ashton Kutcher is Steve Jobs. We have the first official picture from the set of the much anticipated movie.

Oh, take a look at it right there. They look-alike, don't they? When you put those pictures side by side it's pretty amazing. We're going to have the full story, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.