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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Alabama Wins BCS Championship; Peru Helicopter Crash; Giant Squid Caught on Tape; Inaugural Ball Tickets Sold Out Early; Huge Settlements Between Bankers and Government

Aired January 8, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly plunge. At least two Americans among seven killed in a helicopter crash in Peru.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Release the kraken! For the first time in the history, pictures of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat. We have the pictures for you this hour.

SAMBOLIN: This is so cool.

BERMAN: It is.

SAMBOLIN: I don't want to talk about this.

A new dynasty. It's Alabama in a rout on college football's biggest stage. Did you stay up and watch?

BERMAN: You know, I knew it was happening. You could just tell it was going down.

SAMBOLIN: Did you set your alarm clock to get up and watch?

BERMAN: I saw enough of the game to know where it was headed.

SAMBOLIN: So you watched about two minutes of the game.

BERMAN: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Good morning, folks. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: You know, I don't want to rub it in, but one of us was right and one of us was wrong. You are the wrong one. That's all I can say.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I will eat micro today. It's in my coffee.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. I was right. It's January 8th, and it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: And I was wrong.

BERMAN: Up first this morning, roll tide. And we're talking a major roll. A rout inside a blowout wrapped in a complete drubbing. The Alabama Crimson Tide crushed Notre Dame 42-14 to win the college national championship. Alabama scored touchdowns the first three times it had the ball. They led 28-nothing at halftime. That's why I got a full night's sleep.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw for four touchdown passes in all. The Tide has now won 3 of the last 4 titles in college football. They're good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AJ MCCARRON, QUARTERBACK, ALABAMA: It was pretty crazy. I just think about I've been here four years. I've got three national championships, two back to back. It's pretty special.

REPORTER: Are you a dynasty now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dynasty, no doubt about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Carlos Diaz was at the game last night. He is live now in Miami.

I think he was up all night last night.

SAMBOLIN: He was.

BERMAN: Carlos, you know, three out of the four national titles here, right? We can actually call Alabama a dynasty now, can't we?

CARLOS DIAZ, HLN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely.

I mean, that's an easy word to use, although Nick Saban doesn't want you to use that word, or any other words of congratulations. Can someone pinch Nick Saban and tell him that he just won another national championship?

When you're talking about two consecutive national championships, three in the last four years, especially today in the parity that is, you know, sports in general, that kind of domination is just not seen anymore. And after the game, as I said, Nick Saban was his normal stoic self, although he claimed that he was really enjoying this victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COACH NICK SABAN, ALABAMA, BCS CHAMPIONS: This is not about me. It's really about seeing all those people being happy and being proud of what this team was able to accomplish. That's the thing that makes me happy. And, you know, whether I look it or not, I'm happy as hell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAZ: Look at that face. You can tell he's extremely happy. So, I mean, basically when you have not only a victory that makes it your third in the last four years as far as national championships go, when you have such a dominating victory, 42-14, that just goes to show that this is truly a dynasty.

BERMAN: And last year, too, Carlos, they kicked the hell out of LSU last year in the national title game. I mean, they are really, really good here. And Nick Saban maybe can crack a little bit of a smile next time.

How about the SEC? The SEC has been incredibly dominant, too. They've now won seven straight titles. Is this the type of thing that can go on indefinitely, or will the BCS playoffs, which will finally come into play, could that change things?

DIAZ: I actually think it's going to help the SEC because if you're talking about more chances for more SEC teams to get into the national championship picture, if you will, you know, with an expanded playoff system going to four games after next year's national championship game. So I don't see the SEC's domination dying down any time soon.

You know, when you're talking about how much more dominant the SEC is, people are talking about the championship game really happening in December when it was Georgia against Alabama in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. That's how dominant that conference really is.

BERMAN: I think that's absolutely right, Carlos. Now, it was so one- sided last night, you almost had to look for other things for entertainment. And, you know, the broadcast actually provided some sideshows there including -- I don't know if there's any other way to put it -- kind of a creepy sideshow dealing with A.J. McCarron's girlfriend.

DIAZ: OK, hold on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENT MUSBURGER, ESPN COMMENTATOR: I tell you, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman.

Wow! A.J. is doing some things right.

Superior youngster at Alabama, start getting the football out and throwing it around the backyard with pop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

DIAZ: OK, that's the creepy part right there because I respect Brent Musburger, he's the best in the business, but dude, chill out. I mean, he was a little bit too, whoa, look, hubba, hubba.

So, Brent needed to ease off. But that's Katherine Webb. That's A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. She's the reigning Miss Alabama. Her Twitter followers went from 2,300 -- she had 2,300 at the beginning of the night. She topped 100,000 by the end of the night.

At one point, LeBron James followed her and then later unfollowed her in the evening. So she was the star last night.

But I can tell you this. Even though she looks great, Zoraida, don't hate, even though she looks great, she still went to Auburn. She went to Auburn. So A.J. McCarron, that's a definite black mark against you. It's a rivalry against Alabama.

So he might have to dump her. And if he does, she may have to call somebody. I don't know.

SAMBOLIN: I'm not hating on her, for the record. That is a lovely young lady. I just didn't appreciate the commentary either.

BERMAN: Yes, it was a little bit out of the early '70s.

DIAZ: It was weird!

BERMAN: All right. Carlos Diaz in Miami up all night, thank you for joining us. We'll have much more on the BCS title game ahead. We're going to talk to former NFL player --

SAMBOLIN: What's he drinking?

BERMAN: I know. He's going crazy, man. That's what happens on no sleep in a big victory.

Coy Wire, we're going to talk to Coy about Alabama's big win last night.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We're going to switch gears here at six minutes past the hour now, following a developing story. This is out of Peru. At least two Americans are among seven people who were killed in a helicopter crash. This is central Peru.

The chopper crashed and exploded shortly after it took off yesterday afternoon. And authorities say three of the bodies were recovered away from that crash site. Four are still trapped inside the wreck.

BERMAN: The death of a Chicago man who died before he could collect on a winning lottery ticket. This has been ruled a homicide.

SAMBOLIN: Crazy story.

BERMAN: The Cook County chief medical examiner says there was a lethal amount of cyanide in his system. In late June, Khan won $1 million with a scratch-off lottery ticket. The check for his winnings was formally issued on July 19th. Khan died the next night at a Chicago hospital before he could cash that check.

SAMBOLIN: You know, originally they ruled that just a death by natural cause. And then when a family member said, hey, look a little bit more, they found the cyanide in his body.

Chuck Hagel firing back at critics who question his support for Israel. In his first interview since the president nominated him to be Defense Secretary, the former Nebraska Senator told a Lincoln newspaper his record is being distorted and an accurate assessment will reveal, quote, "unequivocal, total support for Israel."

And in the next hour of EARLY START, we'll be joined by Peter Beinart. He's a special correspondent for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast". And he'll talk about an interesting in-depth piece that he just wrote about the implications of Hagel's nomination.

BERMAN: A fascinating piece. This will be a good talk.

James Holmes is expected in court today again in Colorado. Details emerged yesterday about the behavior of the alleged shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre back in July. A police officer testified that Holmes was, quote, "very, very relaxed." The preliminary hearing will determine if Holmes will stand trial in this case. Twelve people were killed in the shooting and, of course, dozens and dozens were wounded.

SAMBOLIN: And bells will be ringing across Tucson today marking two years since the shooting that killed six and severely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, also announcing a new gun-control initiative that they are launching today. Their new Web site, Americansforresponsiblesolutions.org is designed to encourage elected officials to fight gun violence while protecting the rights of responsible gun owners.

So when you get in your car for work this morning, imagine a giant squid twice the size of your car. And for the first time in history, folks, we have video of that sea monster in its natural habitat. The wicked pictures are headed your way, next.

BERMAN: You know it's a good morning when we have squid for you.

Also other news. When I tell you that the gun debate on Piers Morgan's show last night got heated, that does not begin to cover it. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: And I'm here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! It doesn't matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them! Do you understand?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

CNN's Piers Morgan facing off with the man behind a petition to have him deported for Piers' strong stance against guns. Radio host Alex Jones created "The deport Piers Morgan" petition and posted it on the White House Web site. Last night, he kind of went off his rocker, telling Piers that more guns mean less crime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: The Second Amendment isn't there for duck hunting. It's there to protect us from tyrannical government and street guns. Hitler took the guns. Stalin took the guns. Mao took the guns. Hugo Chavez took the guns.

And I'm here to tell you 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! It doesn't matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them! Do you understand?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It was a subdued, calm discussion. Meantime, the White House issued a statement on the deport Piers Morgan petition. The White House responds to all petitions across the threshold, and we will respond to this one.

In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the freedom of expression is a bedrock of principle in our democracy. That's what the White House says.

SAMBOLIN: All righty.

BERMAN: Get ready for a whole bunch of metaphors here. It may sound fishy, but this really is one colossal calamari.

SAMBOLIN: The Discovery Channel says it caught a monster squid on video in its natural habitat for the very first time ever. Right now, we only have these still pictures for you. Japanese scientists spotted it about nine miles east of the Chichi Island in the northern Pacific. They say it is 26 feet long which is the length of four Kobe Bryants or most of the length of a standard school bus.

Can you believe the size of that thing?

BERMAN: It is a very, very big squid.

SAMBOLIN: And the first time caught in its natural habitat. We are so excited about this.

BERMAN: We love big squids here on EARLY START. Big squids are official giant sea creature of EARLY START.

Meteorologist Alexandra Steele with more on the threat of flooding. Help me out, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The first picture of a giant squid dates back to the 1800s. So it's the stuff of myth and legends that's been around for a very long time. And so, we've had pictures but never video, live video, in its natural habitat.

Supposedly, it's the largest fish or reptile with the biggest eyes the size of plates. SAMBOLIN: How do you know so much about this, Alexandra?

STEELE: Because I was supposed to do the story. I studied for an hour! You can ask me anything! Its tentacles, its sucking, what its teeth do! I know everything! I've never known so much about a squid in my life.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, wonderful. Just share details throughout the morning. Thank you.

STEELE: All right. I'll just pepper them out. Let's talk also about the weather story. What we're seeing is this rain.

No snow abound for the most part because this is the area of low pressure that's developing in Texas. Here it is, but it will impact a lot of the country. I'll show you its movement.

But, currently, Houston, Corpus Christi, eastern and central Texas, really that's where the heaviest rain will fall not only for today but for tomorrow. So through Thursday, between four and six inches, and you can see eastern Texas really gets the balance of it because it doesn't move a lot today and tomorrow.

But then it begins its trek. Thursday picks into Louisiana. But here's the severe threat, not only incredibly heavy rain but the potential for damaging winds and even the severe weather threat with possible damaging tornadoes today. So, Corpus to Houston down to Brownsville, just keep an eye to the sky today, and certainly listen if those sirens go off.

And then as we head towards tomorrow, that severe threat with the rain pushes eastward and gets toward New Orleans. So, New Orleans gets into that, not for today but for tomorrow. So here's the future cast with this.

There goes the rain as far north. By the time we head toward Thursday, Chicago, it's a rainmaker, so this is certainly more wet than white because Chicago will be in the 50s by Friday and Saturday and in the 40s tomorrow. Big picture today, the heavy rain, pretty dry, and guys, we're seeing much milder temperatures around the country than last week.

So, a big-time warm-up. So a lot of that snow is melting. And again, this moisture gets to the northern tier, but it's just a rainmaker.

BERMAN: All right. Alexandra Steele, with our weather forecast and squid-cast this Tuesday morning -- thanks very much for that.

SAMBOLIN: It is 16 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Good morning to you.

Still the kings of college football, Alabama's Crimson Tide rolled over the Fighting Irish or not-so-Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 42-14, to win the BCS s national championship last night in Miami. The game wasn't even that close. Alabama built a 28-0 lead at halftime. Let me say that again, a 28-0 lead at halftime. Sorry, Zoraida.

The only drama in the second half is when the Alabama coach got a Gatorade bath, although he didn't seem happy, he'll take it. It's Alabama's second straight national title and third in four years.

Hillary Clinton has a little extra protection this morning, thanks to her staff. The Secretary of State returned to work yesterday after suffering from the flu which led to a fall, a concussion and a blood clot in her head.

Her colleagues gave her a football helmet as a welcome-back gift. She also received a jersey with the number 112 on the back. That's how many countries she has visited as the head of the State Department. Mrs. Clinton is expected to step down at the end of the month.

Cancer deaths in the U.S. on the decline. A new government report said cancer death rates from 2000 to 2009 fell 1.8 percent a year among men, 1.4 percent a year among women. Researchers credit reductions in risk factors like smoking, also improvements in early detection and treatments.

The study did find increases in cancers linked to obesity and human papillomavirus. That's the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States.

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Google chairman Eric Schmidt are in North Korea this morning. Their controversial mission includes meetings with North Korean government officials and business leaders on a trip that's described as a, quote, "private humanitarian visit."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: We're here as individual American citizens looking at the humanitarian situation. We are concerned about the missile launches, and we're concerned about the importance of dialogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Richardson says he'll also be seeking the release of Kenneth Bay, a Korean-American tour guide from Washington who was detained last year for unspecified crimes. The State Department has criticized the visit, calling it ill-timed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he simply misspoke last Friday when he took to the Senate floor and compared the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy to that of Hurricane Katrina. While taking lawmakers to task for not approving sandy relief sooner, Reid said Katrina was nothing in comparison to Sandy. In fact, Katrina was responsible for more than 1,800 deaths. Sandy claimed at least 113 lives.

BERMAN: Probably smart to give that apology for Harry Reid there. SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. Yes.

BERMAN: All right. It is 5:19 in the morning. Time for "EARLY READ," your local news making national headlines.

Let's go to Connecticut. The ctpost.com reports that the mayor of Stratford wants a new school that's going to be built there to be named for Victoria Soto. You'll remember she was the first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who tried desperately to shield her students from Adam Lanza's murderous rampage.

Soto was one of the six adults killed along with 20 children. She was 27 years old. She was a lifelong resident of Stratford, Connecticut. This was the woman who grew up wanting to be a teacher, and she achieved that goal, and by all accounts she was a marvelous educator.

SAMBOLIN: Who can forget -- or you can forget about landing tickets to this year's Inaugural Ball apparently. "The Washington Post" reporting on a foul-up at Ticketmaster who left thousands who signed up for tickets completely shut out. They sent an e-mail informing everyone that they would be receiving another e-mail Monday with a special link to purchase tickets to an official inaugural ball with President Obama and the first lady attending. But just four hours later, the tickets went on sale, and they sold out in a hurry.

Everyone who was waiting for that Monday morning e-mail got shut out. All they got instead was an e-mail from Ticketmaster acknowledging that they made a mistake.

BERMAN: Too bad for them. You can watch the inauguration and all the festivities here on CNN. So stay in the comfort of your own home and watch.

SAMBOLIN: I would be terribly disappointed, though.

For an expanded look at all our top stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. You can also, of course, follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

BERMAN: I follow us.

Coming up, a new warning about the debt ceiling. Why we might get there much faster than expected.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning, New York City. How are you on this fine morning? Grab a cup of coffee, head over to your TV sets because we are minding your business this morning.

U.S. stock futures are trading lower this morning.

BERMAN: Earnings season kicks off today. We just learned the unemployment in the euro area hit a record high.

ROMANS: Imagine unemployment at 11.8 percent. I mean, this is troubling for people in Europe, our biggest trading partner as a zone, and another reason why it's so important, because Europe has been in the midst of austerity, cutting budgets, cutting spending, cutting benefits. And it's driving unemployment higher.

And as we enter into this big debate in this country about cutting spending, cutting benefits, what are the things to take away from that for the United States? Also a debt ceiling alarm bell from the Bipartisan Policy Center saying the Treasury Department's going to run out of room on the debt ceiling earlier than we thought. February 15th, they say is more likely that they run out.

That's the "X" date, that's when we can't pay all of our bills, when we literally only have that date $9 billion coming in, and we have $52 billion in bills. Imagine that in your own household. If you had $9 billion coming in and $52 million going out. When you look at it, it's pretty staggering. I think we have a chart on the left.

That's how much daily catch flow analysis. That means how much on the left, $9 billion is coming in. Look at all the bills on the right we have to play, interest on the debt, $30 billion, we only are bringing in $9 billion a day on February 15th, but we have $30 billion in debt payments.

How about IRS refunds because it is, of course, tax season? Federal salaries and benefits, $3.5 million, military active pay, Medicare/Medicaid, defense, food/HUD/welfare/unemployment, other spending. That's how unbalanced it is. The Republicans will tell you, yes, we've got to cut that spending. We can't live like this anymore.

The fight about how to get that in line is going to be ugly and vicious. And it should be buckle up.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm not going to ask, but that doesn't look very good at all.

ROMANS: No, it doesn't.

BERMAN: Also, in the last 24 hours, we've seen huge, huge settlements between lenders and the government.

ROMANS: Nineteen billion dollars. The government has squeezed out -- regulators have squeezed out $19 billion from banks for the mortgage debacle. These are big mortgage settlements. We told you yesterday how Bank of America coughed up $10.4 billion to Fannie Mae. Now, 10 banks settling with regulators for $8.5 billion.

This gives some clarity to the banks but it does give money to taxpayers and it does give some money to homeowners. Consumer advocates have been saying it's not enough. It's been three years. The banks got of too easy.

It is money, though, coming in finally. It's not the end to the suits against the banks, the civil suits against the banks. I think they're going to cough up more.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, that's a little bit of good news.

ROMANS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

Twenty-six past the hour.

Startled commuters taken for a sudden ride in the wrong direction. More on this escalator accident. It was all caught on camera. That's headed your way, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)