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Dorner Believed Dead; President Kicks Off Second Term; Pope's Last Ash Wednesday Mass; Six New Arrests in Phone-Hacking Scandal; "Banana Joe" Wins Best in Show; Cruise Ship Still Gross, Finally Moving;

Aired February 13, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Charred remains apparently all that's left after a gun battle with a fugitive accused cop killer. His last stand at a lakeside cabin. We will have a live report on this still developing story.




SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama getting emotional talking about Americans who have been touched by gun violence in his State of the Union Address.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And brand new this morning, crowds turn out for Pope Benedict XVI's first public appearance since the bombshell announcement that he is retiring.

Welcome back to EARLY START, a special edition of EARLY START for you this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman in Washington.

O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. It's 31 minutes past the hour. Lots to talk about.

President Obama laying out his vision for his second term in the State of the Union address, challenging Republicans to work with him, to raise the middle class, get a vote done on gun control. Much more in the speech and much more in all of that in a just moment.

But, first, though, we want to get right to that breaking story that's been unfolding, not only just all night long, really unfolding over the last 10 days. A manhunt may now be over, in fact.

BERMAN: That's right. New this morning, authorities now say they have found charred human remains and a burned out cabin in Big Bear, California, after this massive 10-day manhunt for alleged cop killer, Christopher Dorner. And while we still don't have a positive ID on that body, law enforcement officials seem confident that he was killed inside the cabin where he barricaded himself yesterday for one final shoot-out with police.

I want to get right to Casey Wian live at Los Angeles police headquarters. Casey, what was the latest on this investigation?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, even though they believe that the remains that have been found in the cabin in the Big Bear area are those of Christopher Dorner -- of course, not confirmed, but that is the assumption -- this investigation, John, is far from over. One of the things that authorities will continue to look into is the possibility that he could have had accomplices. He was up in the Big Bear area where it seems six days, and people are questioning how he could have done that without some help.

In the original arrest warrant that was released over the weekend, that was issued on Thursday by the U.S. Marshals Service, it talked about a man with the initials J.Y., a known acquaintance of Dorner who had property in the Big Bear area. Law enforcement sources tell us all of his known acquaintances have been checked out and cleared, but they are still looking at the possibility that accomplices could have helped him.

Here's what the LAPD had to say about that.


COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Anybody who assisted him -- assisted him in hiding from the police department, assisted him in avoiding capture, or assisted him in any way is criminally culpable. And I can assure you that the Los Angeles Police Department and the district attorney's office will leave no stone unturned to find out if in fact someone was assisting this man in his terrible crimes, in his eluding capture.


WIAN: The LAPD also says that until they have positive evidence those remains are Dorner, they will continue to keep 50 families, LAPD members and relatives under 24-hour protection. They are people who are believed to have been targets of Dorner -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Casey Wian at Los Angeles police headquarters this morning -- thanks, Casey.

O'BRIEN: Then, it was the dramatic high point to the president's State of the United address from the last night. The president urging Congress to pass tougher gun laws, while taking note of those in attendance whose lives have been affected by gun violence, including the family of a Chicago teenager, Hadiya Pendleton.

Here's what he said.


OBAMA: Hadiya's parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence.

They deserve a vote.


They deserve a vote.


They deserve a vote.


Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.


The families of Newtown deserve a vote.


The families of Aurora deserve a vote.


The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote.



BERMAN: That was really the most dramatic moment of the speech last night.

O'BRIEN: And interesting optics around it.

Let's bring in Don Baer, the former White House communications director, former White House speechwriter helping President Clinton draft his State of the Union addresses from '95 until the end of his term. And currently, he's a worldwide chair and CEO of the global communications firm, Burson-Marsteller. Nice to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: Interesting to see the moment where you see the vice president stands, the House majority leader standing as well. Many realize -- at some point, you realize the political debate that is going on behind what the president is saying, right? Everybody is clapping. I thought it was interesting --

BERMAN: Speaker Boehner chose to sit down.

O'BRIEN: Speaker Boehner stops clapping first and then choose to sit down. BAER: You know, it's so interesting --

O'BRIEN: Is that odd to you too?

BAER: It distracted me very much. You know, it's a very emotional moment, and everybody is talking about it. And I suspect it moved some people.

But it's interesting that little stage craft reflects some real division in the country in the sort in the role that I was in the White House -- what the White House is looking at now, how is the country reacting to these things?

And I've just seen overnight some results of something called the Microsoft Bing pulse, which was 13,000 Americans got to vote on what they thought about these issues as it was going on last night. And you know where they were divided on? On gun control and they're divided on climate change.

Meanwhile --

O'BRIEN: The areas which they are divided in on every poll we see.

BERMAN: Those divisive issues --

BAER: Well, but, you know, even though there is a lot of emotion behind these issues and even science in some cases, they're divided on.

You know where they are together? Immigration reform, tax reform, deficit reduction, people with college --

O'BRIEN: How about minimum wage?

BAER: Minimum wage is a little murkier. You know -- so what is the dividing line there? Think about it. Gun control, climate change -- this is where government is going to have more of a role, right?

Immigration reform is moving government out of something, it's like letting people getting on with their lives. Deficit reduction, tax reform, it seems to the public like, OK, that's smarter government not more government. I think that's where the divide really is.

BERMAN: If they are divided on the issues, what then can a president accomplish in his State of the Union speech? What do you think he did accomplish?

BAER: Well, I think he set out a very, very aggressive agenda, and that's an important thing. You know, he gets a chance to sort of set the agenda, to sort of mark the debates and keep moving forward.

He's not done yet, right? He's going to the country now. He's going to continue to make this case.

BERMAN: It struck me that he laid down a marker on the deficit. It's an unlikely marker in some cases. He basically said the deficit is not going to be his obsession. That cutting a deficit doesn't make for good economic policy.

BAER: Well, this is the big debate going on. We went into the cliff issues back before the holidays, everything was -- the deficit is key, and there's a lot of people hear him saying if we don't deal with the deficit, we won't be able to move on things that help future generations. The president has subtly in the last month --

BERMAN: Not subtly last night, though.

BAER: Last night, he delivered on it, right? He actually in his inaugural address he said more or less the same thing. That's the big fight that's going to be going on now, really. And all these other things are important. But let's face it, the big issues on the budget and deficit, that is front and center now for the next several months. And it will be very difficult for them to move on to many of these other agenda items if they can't deal with these.

O'BRIEN: It's interesting to hear him kind of throw down the gauntlet last night on that.

BAER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: It's very nice to have you with us.

BAER: Great to be here. Thanks a lot.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

BERMAN: We have a lot more going on this morning, a lot of news all around the world. Zoraida is up in New York to bring us up to speed on that. Hey, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating what will likely be his last public mass on this Ash Wednesday. Before that happened, he appeared before the thousands of faithful who are gathered at St. Petersburg Square, thanking them in several languages and also mentioning his decision to step down.

Senior European correspondent Jim Bittermann is live in Vatican City with that. I know you have a translation for us. What did the Pope say?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, in fact, the Pope referred to his resignation right off the bat, at the top of his remarks, and received tumultuous applause from the thousands of people who are gathered right here, the papal audience. Here's a bit of what he had to say.


POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I have decided to resign the ministry given to me by the Lord. I have prayed for a long time, and I have examined before God my conscience, fully aware of the gravity and seriousness of such acts, but also affair that it is not adequate for me to continue if I don't have the strength that it requires. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BITTERMANN: And the Pope thanked the pilgrims for their love and their prayers and h said he hoped to say they would continue to pray for not only him and his successor, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: He looked like he was in good health.

Jim Bittermann, live for us, thank you very much.

John, Soledad, we're going to head back to you. There was a lot of crowds out there, with a lot of cheering for the Pope.

O'BRIEN: I am not surprised.


O'BRIEN: It will be so fascinating to watch that between now, right, and the very end of the month.

SAMBOLIN: February 27th is the last appearance.

O'BRIEN: And the 28th, he's officially done and they go into the next month where they bring the conclave together. It could be a fascinating couple of weeks and months ahead.

BERMAN: And there's a lot of anticipation. The cardinals will actually come earlier than the conclave because they want to be there for his final address, which Zoraida is talking about, is on the 27th right now.

We have a lot of other news still developing this morning. The furious conclusion of the hunt for a fugitive accused killer. Charred remains may be all that remain now of ex-cop Christopher Dorner. We will have more on that coming up.

O'BRIEN: Plus, Crimson pride turned to shame. Members of the national champion Alabama football squad arrested. We've got details on what happened, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching EARLY START. We're live in Washington, D.C. for the aftermath of the State of the Union speech last night.

Another developing story that we're following as well. Police say charred remains have been found in a cabin in Big Bear, California. That after a massive manhunt for an accused killer, ex-cop Christopher Dorner.

BERMAN: For more on this, we're going to bring in Lou Palumbo. He's a former Nassau County, New York, police officer. He now heads up a security agency.

And, Lou, we've been saying all morning, the news many people are waking up is they found charred human remains in the cabin. Still waiting for those to be identified. With that and beyond that, how do we reach a conclusion in this case?

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Well, continuing investigation and closure. We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt without chance of mishap. That, in fact, the remains that were recovered or they're going to be recovered in this cabin belong to Dorner.

They need to give the public some closure on this incident and then maybe Los Angeles needs to go back and revisit the disconnect that they have in the community that has also brought a whole different dimension to this case, but they've gone an ongoing investigation.

They're going to have to run his DNA. They're going to have to continue to identify whether or not at any point he was aided or abetted.

O'BRIEN: I was going to say, it's not just about the DNA, right? It's about the actual path. Where has he been over the last ten days? And then, I think ever further back, what happened the five years from when he really was fired, was kicked off the force, and of course, he had appeals up to 2011. There's a gap of time there as well to investigate how much planning if, indeed, this is the body that they think it is. How much planning went into this?

PALUMBO: Well, you know, I don't think as much planning as you might suspect, because I think this individual was so well trained. He really invested himself into his training, unlike a law enforcement -- a lot of law enforcement agents. They gloss over firearms. This guy appeared to have taken a real strong interest in learning how to operate firearms.

The other thing I wanted to mention, too, is that I listened repeatedly to the gunfire exchange yesterday in Big Bear and someone had a full automatic weapon up there.

O'BRIEN: Fully automatic?

PALUMBO: I could tell by the number of shots and the succession, the closeness.

O'BRIEN: We were talking about that earlier.

PALUMBO: So, I'm curious to know if it was the sheriff's office that had it in the patrol carbine (ph), or did he, in fact, have one, which would account for why he was so effective in neutralizing law enforcement --

BERMAN: If he did have one, that would be illegal in any state. That's --

PALUMBO: Well, that's not true, sir. Actually, John, there are number of states that what we call class three states. I'll give you an example, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, you may own full automatic weapons once you acquire a $200 tax stamp from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, it's registered.

So, there are automatic weapons, fully automatic weapons available, but not every state is what we call or refer to as a class three state.

O'BRIEN: So much to know about what happened. And first and foremost, whether or not those charred remains that are inside this burned down cabin are, in fact, those of the man they've been looking for. Thanks, Lou. Nice to see you.

PALUMBO: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: As always, we appreciate it. Lou, of course, is a retired Nassau County, New York, police officer, now runs his own security agency.

BERMAN: Lots more going on this morning. A lot of news all around the world. I want to go back to Zoraida now in New York.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Good morning, guys. New this morning, six more arrests stemming from a new investigation into alleged phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's now shuttered "News of the World" tabloid.

Scotland Yard detectives say six former or current journalists have been taken into custody and are of a suspected conspiracy by staffers at the newspaper that took place back in 2005 and 2006. This investigation is separate from an earlier probe that led to the arrest of several top Murdoch's executives.

Four members of the University of Alabama's national championship football team have been suspended indefinitely after they were arrested earlier this week. Three of the players are accused of robbing two students on campus a fourth player is charged with fraudulent use of a credit card.

"Banana Joe," how adorable, wins Best in Show. The affenpinscher won via 137 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. This is last night. And Joe is going out on top. Westminster was his final competition. Banana Joe beat out five other dogs who all won their own categories to be the top dog. I wonder how he got his name.

So, help has arrived in the Gulf this morning, but not nearly fast enough for the thousands that are still stuck on a disabled cruise ship. No bathrooms. Patience is wearing thin. We have a live update, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 52 minutes past the hour.

Nasty new tales coming from the Gulf of Mexico where a disabled carnival cruise ship is slowly being tolled home right now. The toilets are overflowing and they are running out of food. And here's how one passenger described how disgusting it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their sewage, raw sewage blocking in the hallways. You have to cover your face. It's disgusting.


SAMBOLIN: But there is some good news to report. A second tug has arrived, and passengers say the boat is moving now, at least, and there are even some activities that are planned. Victor Blackwell is live in Mobile, Alabama. We're shocked by the activities planned when you know the details of what is happening on board. So, when can they expect this to come to an end?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk about the activities first. I can tell you, at least, one activity that's likely happening is drinking. We've learned from a person on board the ship that the bar is open, and the drinks are free. And in these types of situations, I'm sure a lot of people are partaking in a few beverages.

But let's talk about the progress in moving these people back to the mainland. This ship is expected to be here tomorrow afternoon. And the people here who operate the port and the cruise terminals say they are ready. More than 100 security officers are on their way. Homeland security will be here. TSA will be here for customs.

Carnival employees will be here, and they will all now decide what happens next with these people and there are options. So, 1,500 hotel rooms have been booked here in Mobile and New Orleans for people who immediately want to get a hot shower and a comfortable bed. There will also be motor coaches to take people back to Houston and Galveston.

And 20 flights have been chartered to fly these people back to Houston to get them home. So, that is happening right now, and everybody is here waiting. They say that they are ready because back in 2011, that was the last time a carnival cruise ship was here. This was a carnival port. So, they are prepared for ships of this size and groups of passengers as large as they're coming in tomorrow.

SAMBOLIN: And Victor, you mentioned a mom earlier who had driven quite a distance to be there when her daughter arrived. Is she just hanging out waiting?

BLACKWELL: Yes. We spoke with two moms, Kim and Mary, and they said as soon as they found out the ship was coming to Galveston -- rather coming to Mobile, they decided to come here and wait. They said they'd rather be a day early than two minutes late. Listen to Mary.


KIM MCKERREGHAN, MOTHER OF PASSENGER: He said that the conditions have gotten so bad that they're asking them to use the restroom in bags and they were eating onion sandwiches and that was on Monday. You know? And I haven't heard anything since. I've just been following the news feed and that they were going to be here in Mobile, Alabama. So, I was going to be here a day early and not two minutes later when that boat arrived.


BLACKWELL: That was actually Kim McKerreghan. Their daughters of 10 and 12. And of course, they are waiting for their daughters to come home. Again, they're expected to be here tomorrow afternoon, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Well, hopefully, you will capture the happy reunion. Victor Blackwell live in Mobile, Alabama, thank you for that.

That is EARLY START or the special edition of EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. News continues on "STARTING POINT" right after this short break. We're back in just a moment.