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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

What Made Him Snap?; Barreling Toward the Cliff; Superstars for Sandy Relief

Aired December 13, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What made him snap? We're learning more about the mass gunman who opened fire at a crowded Oregon shopping mall.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Barreling towards the fiscal cliff. Taxes are still a stumbling block with negotiations time running out.

BERMAN: And what a concert, superstars for Sandy relief. Some of the greatest music performers on stage for last night's all-star hurricane benefit concert.

SAMBOLIN: Did you stay up? Did you stay up?

BERMAN: I knew it was happening as I was sleeping. There's Sir Paul McCarthy right there --

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

BERMAN: -- playing with Nirvana, of all people.

SAMBOLIN: I know. It's incredible.

BERMAN: Really, never happened before.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, up first here -- new information about the 22-year-old sandwich shop worker who killed two people and critically wounded a teenager at a suburban Portland mall. Friends say Jacob Roberts was a pretty happy young man until about a week ago when he quit his job and told his ex-girlfriend that he was moving to Hawaii.

We are also learning more about the three people that Robert shot. A dedicated hospice nurse who left behind a daughter and a step son, a former radio executive remembered as a mentor and a dream maker, and a 15-year-old girl who took a bullet to the chest but is expected to survive. We're happy to report that.

Dan Simon is live from suburban Portland this morning. So, what else are you finding out about Jacob Roberts? You know, everybody is questioning, what was the motive here? DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Zoraida. You know, investigators say they haven't found anything in terms of a violent history or criminal past, but there are some disturbing hints about his psychological well-being. For instance, if you look at his Facebook page, you'll see a slogan that says, quote, "Follow your dreams" with the word "canceled" stamped over it.

Then there are reports that he was telling friends that he inherited a bunch of money and was planning to move to Hawaii, nothing of which is grounded in any truth. Still, everyone seems so genuinely shocked that the kid they remember as a popular student in high school could be capable of committing such an atrocity.

Here's what his ex-girlfriend told ABC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNAH PATRICIA SANSBURN, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF JACOB ROBERTS: This is the last thing I would have ever expected, especially from him. He was just too sweet. Never mean to anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, we're also getting a better sense of the two victims who were killed, the two people he killed. Forty-five-year-old Steven Forsythe, father of two, a respected executive in the Portland area. And there's 42-year-old Cindy Yuille, the mother and dedicated hospice nurse. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY NICKERSON, CINDY YUILLE'S FRIEND AND CO-WORKER: Cindy was an amazing hospice nurse. She spent her life helping other people transition to the end of life. And Cindy Yuille's family never got to say good-bye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, for all the misery that was created in such a short span of time here at mall, investigators say it could have been so much worse had the weapon not jammed during the attack. They say the AR-15 rifle that was used to commit these murders actually got stuck at one point and that's the reason why more people weren't shot -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Again, the response time was just so fast as well. The 15- year-old girl, she's still in stable condition?

SIMON: She is in stable condition. Her family has put up a Facebook page. They have been updating people. She seems like she's going to survive. You know, she's somebody who has escaped death twice. There was an incident apparently last year where her family was struck by a drunken driver, and she was injured but survived that attack or survived that incident. So, it's pretty crazy, but she seems to be doing pretty well in the hospital.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, seems like a tough little lady. Dan Simon live for us this morning -- thank you.

BERMAN: The other big story today, getting a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is looking more and more like it might take a Christmas miracle. President Obama and congressional Republicans seem to be digging in on the issue of taxes right now.

But a new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans are siding with the president. Of the Republicans polled, we're seeing a big shift, a majority favoring compromise.

White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is following this information negotiation, the ups and downs. Brianna, we have 19 days to go. I'm not sure these polls matter as much as the members on both sides of the aisle.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Now, the good news, John, is they are still talking, the White House and the speaker's office. There's an open line of communication. They made that pretty clear. President Obama and the speaker have spoken. The staff is talking.

But when you listen to how they're characterizing conversations, it's not really all that great, because from Sunday's conversation that the speaker had with the president, he called that cordial. And he just said that his conversation on Tuesday night with the president was deliberate and frank. And both the speaker and the White House have been asked about reports that actually that phone call was intense.

That's something that Jay Carney did not dispute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Simply say, you know, we confirm the call. The -- you know, one in a series of conversations as well as a meeting as you know recently that the president had with a speaker and, you know, aimed towards the effort of trying to find some common ground on this important issue.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I would say it was tense. There were offered exchanged back and forth yesterday. And, you know, the president and I had a frank conversation about just how far apart we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And they are pretty far apart, John. The White House, the president, still demanding that income tax rates on earnings more than a quarter million dollars go up. Republicans saying no to that and accusing the White House of not putting out specifics when it comes to spending cuts and entitlement reforms, reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, John.

BERMAN: This seems to be a fairly big shift in tone, as you said, from cordial to frank and deliberate that seems like a dirty word there. And what are we talking about as an absolute drop-dead time to get a deal done? The speaker said, you know, the members should be prepared to stay until Christmas Eve.

KEILAR: That's right. And they should. This really -- Christmas is an important time. And that's because it's a several-day process to take a deal and make it into legislative language, and then it takes a few days for this to be introduced in Congress to work its way through. It's hard to tell just how alarming this characterization, this kind of bad shift in the characterization of these phone calls is.

If it's just public posturing, which we often see, perhaps it's not so alarming. Perhaps there's still time. But, obviously, we're going to know here in a week if it was really terrible and it was really a sign of the fact that they were far apart and unable to find common ground. I think one reason, John, that it is alarming, we've heard from the chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, he said already this impasse is hurting the economy. So that's certainly a reason for alarm.

BERMAN: All right. Brianna Keilar in Washington, always nice to have both a frank and cordial discussion with you. Great to see you.

SAMBOLIN: That somebody is having there, right?

Seven minutes past the hour. North Korea may not have full control of that satellite it put orbit. That word to CNN from a U.S. official. The satellite was carried aboard the long range rocket. It was launched yesterday.

This is video from North Korean television claiming to be from the control room in North Korea as the rocket blasted off. U.S. officials say that ground control has yet to send a key radio control to the satellite, indicating there's a potential problem there.

BERMAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify next week about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She will appear before the House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees. A report by a State Department review board on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans is expected to be released before Clinton testifies. That's one week from today.

Two men from New Mexico have reportedly been arrested in a bizarre murder-for-hire plot. And police say one of their targets was actually Justin Bieber.

BERMAN: Really?

SAMBOLIN: KRQE TV -- yes, this is in Albuquerque -- says 41-year-old Mark Staake and his 23-year-old nephew Tanner Ruane were allegedly plotting to kidnap, castrate and kill four people, including two witnesses to a crime committed by a murdered convict who Staake met in prison, along with Bieber and his bodyguard. How bizarre is that?

BERMAN: That sounds crazy.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is.

BERMAN: All right. Other news, Honda recalling more than 800,000 minivans and SUVs over an ignition system defect. The recall affects 318,000 Odyssey minivans made in 2003 and 2004, and 259,000 Pilot SUVs also made in 2003 and 2004. Also included in this recall, 230,000 Acura MDX SUVs made from 2003 to 2006. This news is choking me up.

Honda says the defect lets owners remove the keys from the ignition before putting the vehicle into park which can cause the vehicles to roll away. It sounds like a very bad thing. This has caused several crashes and at least two reported injuries the years.

Honda recalled close to 400,000 cars for the same issue back in 2010.

SAMBOLIN: Do you know how often I have that happen where I'm trying to take -- I know, it's crazy, right? You're wondering, who would do that? I have done that. Try to take the key out.

BERMAN: You're that person, right?

SAMBOLIN: Nine minutes past the hour. This moment of Zen brought to you by the FCC. Starting today, you can say good-bye to excessively loud TV commercials.

BERMAN: That is awesome.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: The FCC is barring them, saying the ads must maintain the same average volume as the shows they sponsor. No doubt this news should make a lot of TV viewers happy. It makes me thrilled. I thought I was crazy for years because the volume kept going up. I'm like what's wrong? It keeps happening. Now, I realize it was on purpose.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, exactly. The FCC says loud commercials have been a top complaint since 2002 when it's consumer tip line began actually reporting them. Were you part of that?

BERMAN: No. I thought I was nuts for the longest time.

Ten minutes after the hour. One of the greatest gatherings of musical talent ever on stage last night and really for a very worthy cause, the 12/12/12 concert for Sandy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN (singing): They turned our power down. Staten Island drowned. But we went right on with the show --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That, of course, Long Island's own Billy Joel with a little rewrite of his iconic song "Miami 2017". He sounds great.

The show also featured another local boy, Bruce Springsteen. SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: The Jersey Shore's own, of course, with the E. Street Band, also Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, with Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney. I mean, honestly, this was insane.

SAMBOLIN: Who wasn't there, right?

BERMAN: There are estimates 2 billion people watched. The show already raised $30 million in just ticket sales to help end the misery caused by the storm.

SAMBOLIN: That's really great. Really nice of them to donate their talent and their time like that.

Eleven minutes past the hour. Autopsy results expected today in the case of the nurse who committed suicide after a radio show pranked the hospital where the duchess of Cambridge was being treated.

BERMAN: Plus, disturbing new video of a homeless, mentally challenged man knocked out.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

BERMAN: That video was posted on Facebook. We'll have those stories and much more after this quick break.

SAMBOLIN: That's awful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fourteen minutes past the hour. Results of an autopsy conducted Tuesday on the British nurse Jacintha Saldanha just being released, as part of a coroner's inquest that is taking place in London. And the coroner said her body was found hanging by a scarf.

And according to heard today, the 46-year-old Saldanha took her life three days after being fooled by Australian radio deejays posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The deejays wanted information about the duchess. The pregnant royal was in the hospital suffering severe morning sickness at the time.

Dan Rivers has more from London. Dan, what else can you tell us?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police also told the court she had some injuries to her wrist. As you said, she was found hanging in her neck by a scarf from a wardrobe door. They haven't formally concluded it's suicide yet, but three notes were found in her belongings.

So, it will be some weeks before they come to what sounds like a fairly inevitable conclusion. It's been adjourned until March. This is a normal process here. But it seems certain that she did commit suicide in light of putting that call through. SAMBOLIN: What can you tell us? What more can you tell us about this woman? We know that she's a mother and wife. What else do you know about her?

RIVERS: Well, she came to this country from India about 10 years ago. She worked in this hospital for four years. She's got two teenage children, 17 and a 14-year-old who lived separately from her with her husband that she saw on her days off, weekend and so on. Devoutly religious, Catholic from southern India. Very committed and professional to her career as a nurse.

And just all of her friends paying nothing but glowing tributes to her. Everyone incredibly shocked that she apparently committed suicide in light of this prank call.

SAMBOLIN: Now, this is awful. So, what happens next?

RIVERS: So what will happen next is the coroner and the police will continue to do their inquiries. The next hearing, as I say, will be in March.

It was said in court by the coroner's office that there are no suspicious circumstances. So, there's no real suggestion that there was foul play or anyone else involved. It does appear it was a suicide. But they will go through the formal process, the body may be released before then so they can have a funeral.

Meanwhile, the Australian radio station is in difficulty. It's being investigated by the Australian communications and media authority, looking into its license, its broadcast license. The entire future of that radio station may be now in doubt.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dan Rivers live in London, thank you.

BERMAN: An awful story.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh. It breaks your heart.

BERMAN: It is 17 minutes after the hour right now. Let's look at the other headlines. Christine Romans, our friend, is here with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you this morning. We're learning more about 22-year-old Jacob Roberts, the sandwich shop clerk who killed two people inside a crowded Portland area mall. An ex-girlfriend said Roberts quit his job last week and said he was moving to Hawaii. Police still don't know why he decided instead to go on a shooting rampage before killing himself. On his Facebook page, Roberts stamped the word canceled over the slogan follow your dreams.

Two men have been arrested for allegedly beating a mentally challenged homeless man on camera and then posting it on Facebook. I want to warn you, you may find this video hard to work. Investigators say they agreed to pay the man $20 if he agreed to get slapped. The homeless man was punched and knocked out cold.

The incident happened back in September. A concerned Facebook user alerted authorities once that video was posted.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will pay $55 million to settle federally charges over unproven claims made in advertising for the acid reflux drug Protonix. The infractions go back 12 years, long before Pfizer purchased Wyeth, which manufactured and handled the advertising for Protonix. Pfizer acquired Wyeth in 2009 for $68 billions.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

It is 18 minutes past the hour. It's time for your "Early Reads", your local news that is making national headlines.

In "The New York Times" -- merry Christmas, iPhone nation. Google Maps is back and possibly better than ever. The app is available for download with turn by turn navigation, bus and walking directions are back, along with street view. So much more for you.

If you remember, Apple replaced Google Maps with its own version of the app. The new software was slammed by users for warped 3-D effects and misplacing all the landmarks. Some cities were even placed as far as 70 miles from their actual location.

BERMAN: Yes, the review in "The New York Times" of the new app is fantastic. They love all over the new Google Maps. Maybe we'll check it out.

SAMBOLIN: Now you won't get lost, 70 miles from your location.

BERMAN: Now to "USA Today" and "The Arizona Republic", they are writing about this new way drug smugglers are trying to get marijuana into the U.S. by t-shirt launcher. You know those pressurized cannons used to launch t-shirts and other things at sporting events? U.S. Border Control agents say they found 33 cans filled with pot on the Arizona side of the Mexican border. They believe the cans weighing two and a half pounds each were launched 500 feet over the border fence. The pot is estimated to be worth about $43,000.

SAMBOLIN: Innovative.

BERMAN: You know, I wonder if the new laws legalizing marijuana are going to reduce the creativity in smuggling.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I would imagine so. We'll see a change long term.

So, coming up, a massive cyber attack is planned on personal checking accounts. We are talking about personal accounts at 30 banks. This is across the country. We're going to have all the details after the break.

Look at that beautiful live picture.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: There it is. Love pictures of Hong Kong. Those pictures being brought to us -- all of us from our CNN bureau in Hong Kong. Why? Because we can. It's just that cool. It's a bit after 6:00 p.m. in Hong Kong right now. Those pictures from one of the business centers of the world, appropriate as we say because we are minding your business this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we are.

BERMAN: U.S. stock futures are down slightly after closing mixed yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: The driving force in the markets, the big Federal Reserve announcement yesterday.

Christine has all of the details for us.

ROMANS: And the clarity from Ben Bernanke, the Fed chief, is pretty astonishing when you think that, you know, just 15 years ago, people complained they didn't know what Fed was doing.

Ben Bernanke is telling you exactly what the Fed is doing and what it will do because of all the uncertainties in the world, they are trying to make the thing that is certain.

Ben Bernanke crystal clear that the Fed will do more stimulus measures of $85 billion a month. They'll buying treasuries, they'll continue mortgage-backed securities program. This is all the way through 2015.

Why? Because they're setting these economic bars. They say they're going to keep helping the economy until the national jobless rate falls to 6.5 percent and they're setting an inflation limit of 2.5 percent. This bar, this threshold, this is new territory for the Fed to be so explicit about what their unemployment and inflation targets are.

The Fed also downgrading expectations for growth for next year, saying that GDP, economic growth in this country will be more like 2.5 percent to 3 percent. That's their range. And they think the jobless rate is going to be pretty stuck here, about 7.4 percent to 7.7 percent.

And on the subject of the fiscal cliff, the Fed is saying that all of these herculean measures from the Fed would not be enough to undo the fiscal cliff.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I hope it won't happen, if the fiscal cliff occurs, as I've said many times, I don't think the Federal Reserve has the tools to offset that event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It was Ben Bernanke who first said fiscal cliff in a speech, when all the headline writers start picking up on fiscal cliff as well.

Another thing I want to bring to you, this report from McAfee, the security firm McAfee, warning about a potential widespread raid on your bank account by Trojan malware in 2013. It's called Project Blitzkrieg. Let me show you.

They say they have found malware lying dormant in U.S. financial systems schedule to go active in the spring of 2013, and this is malware targeting your bank account, consumer bank account, to siphon money out of bank accounts from 30 of the biggest banks you've heard of, including these and also Fidelity, E-Trade, Charles Schwab, PayPal, some other areas as well.

This is a big problem. This is the second security firm that has warned that they have found the fingerprints of this just lying on your hard drive waiting to come back to bite you. So, as you can imagine, the banks, the security firms, everyone kind of scrambling to figure out how they're going to be able to undo it, if they can. But a warning there about this.

BERMAN: So even if we bet the Mayan apocalypse, even if we bet the fiscal cliff, we're all still hosts.

ROMANS: Suspend your money now. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BERMAN: Thank you, Christine.

Barbara Walters called it the elephant in the room. Chris Christie called it ridiculous. Coming up, the fascinating question posed to New Jersey's governor on national TV.

SAMBOLIN: Great question.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)