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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
"Blade Runner" Bail Hearing: Day 2; Gas Explosion Levels Kansas City Restaurant; Winter Storm on the Way; Bulgarian Government Resigns; Stay of Execution; Apple Hit By Hackers; China Denies Hacking; PlayStation Comeback?
Aired February 20, 2013 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Two boxes of testosterone and needles found in Oscar Pistorius' home the night his girlfriend was murdered, but his team denies that it's a banned substance. Some damaging testimony happening right now in court, plus, new charges.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Still developing at this hour, a search for the missing after an explosion levels a popular restaurant in Kansas City.
SAMBOLIN: And bracing for a really big storm. It has already started in California, but soon, millions across a large chunk of the country will also feel this extreme weather.
BERMAN: And the chase is on. Look at this, Chinese guards chase a CNN crew near what said to be Shanghai's secret cyber hacking headquarters. Not suspicious at all, right? He's chased cameraman like that.
SAMBOLIN: In a car. Chasing him upfoot there in a car. All right.
BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.
SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Wednesday, February 20th. It is just about 6:00 a.m. in the East.
And happening right now, we could hear at any moment whether Oscar Pistorius, Olympic track star, accused of murdering his girlfriend will be allowed to go free. And dramatic new details from the courtroom are coming in.
The first officer on the scene testifying he believes Pistorius' actions were in no way self-defense. He also said two boxes of testosterone and needles were found in his home, but the defense said that was legal herbal medication and claims that Pistorius used a cricket bat to breakdown the bathroom door.
Robyn Curnow joins us from outside the courtroom in Pretoria to breakdown all of these new developments. I know you've been spending all your time inside, what is the very latest?
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Riveting stuff, isn't it? So compelling because it's seemed like legal ping pong because what we're seeing here is Oscar's people defending his side of the story. After they cross-examined the investigating officer, they could see -- they got him to concede.
I'm just going to read it. That they couldn't find anything inconsistent with Oscar's versions of events basically Oscar's team, Oscar Pistorius' lawyers have been taking apart the state's case in terms of evidence.
They also said that there wasn't any assault or bruising or wounds on Reeva to indicate that perhaps she had been hit as many people have thought with that cricket bat. So bit by bit, his defense is -- is again proving that he's telling the truth, according to them.
The particular testosterone issue kind of indicates a bit of police bungling. Because according to Oscar's team, he said, well, didn't you read the label? This is an herbal medicine. They said that's all we did. Didn't you go to the pharmacy and check what this was?
They said no. This is a substance that is still being tested so that they kind of put that as evidence and not really knowing that whether or not it was testosterone. Also we've been told that they didn't check with the ambulance company whether an ambulance had been called.
Even though as evidence they said no phone calls had been made from the phones they found in the house. So there is a sense the police haven't been as thorough as they should have been, and the defense, of course, really taking issue with that.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Robyn Curnow, live for us. I know that you're watching all the late breaking development. We appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up in the next half hour, we will break down what is happening at the Pistorius bail hearing with CNN legal contributor, Paul Callan.
BERMAN: Meanwhile, here at home. Firemen and cadaver dogs combing through the rubble of a Kansas City restaurant for two people still missing at this hour after this building exploded and burned to the ground overnight.
It happened just before dinner at Country Club Plaza, a popular shopping district. People living nearby say the gas explosion and fire sounded like thunder, felt like an earthquake. More than a dozen people injured.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is following the developments for us. He is live in Kansas City and Ted, what are they saying right now about this explosion?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, they said there was thankfully some warning because of the smell of gas. People were able to get out of the restaurant. Right now, they have suspended the search for the two missing people.
They say that they are going to bring in heavy equipment later this morning, as soon as the sun comes up, but, quite frankly, overnight. It was too dangerous to continue it. The unfortunate thing is this is not a recovery mission for people that they believe survived. They are looking for bodies.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): The explosion, which witnesses say could be felt blocks away instantly engulfed J.J.'s Restaurant, sending debris, including glass and bricks flying through the air. Flames towered into the sky and black smoke could be seen for miles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just live two blocks down and we just felt our building shake. And we thought a car literally ran into our apartment.
ROWLANDS: There were reports of the smell of gas an hour before the explosion. Fortunately, several people inside the restaurant were evacuated just minutes before the blast.
The cause is still under investigation, but according to the gas company, a contractor doing underground work may have struck a natural gas line. After the fire was put out, dogs were brought in, in case there were additional victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would always fear there are fatalities in a situation like this. When we got to the scene, we had a fully involved restaurant that had several patrons inside at the time of the incident. So that's why we are here searching as we are.
ROWLANDS: The injured range from people who were hit by flying debris to those who suffered severe burns and are now fighting for their lives.
ROWLANDS: John, as for those two individuals that they are looking for, a man and a woman, we're not sure if they were employees of the restaurant or patrons -- John.
BERMAN: And Ted, as tragic as this, as you said, lucky that there was some warning there. Ted Rowlands in Kansas City, thanks for that report.
So it has already started and most of the country will feel the effects of a significant winter storm. California getting the first taste of it right now. This is expected to impact millions from the west coast all the way to Arkansas.
SAMBOLIN: Jennifer Delgado is in the Severe Weather Center in Atlanta. What is the very latest on the storm?
JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. Well, you see the snow video coming out of California. Well, that mess has to go somewhere and it's going to be moving over towards the east. Today, it is going to be a mess. It will start to kick in as we go later into the evening hours. But snow is going to be developing later on today for the four corners.
But we'll also see more of that snow setting up for parts of the central plains and the Midwest and the chance for some severe storms across Texas later in the afternoon. Now, notice for yourself. Here is the radar, you see where the rain is, already looking at some of that snow working to parts of Arkansas and Kansas.
That's just a taste of wheat going to be happening later into the evening as well as into tomorrow morning. Look at the warnings out there and the watches. This is all associated with winter weather, and this is 16 areas that we're watching, 16 different states.
A lot of people affected by the storm, but it's also going to be combing with a system out of the west and as it does, that's when we're going to see the explosion happening of the heavy snowfall.
We're talking nearly a foot of snow for parts of Kansas as well as into Nebraska, and then we're also adding in about a quarter to 3/4 inch of ice. You can see the worst is really going to start late in the night as well as into the morning hours this is going to be for a messy commute. Taking down power lines as well as trees, you add in some winds, that is going to make the situation even worse.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Jennifer Delgado, thank you very much.
It's 6 minutes past the hour. New this morning, Bulgaria's prime minister and his entire government stepping down. Boyko Borisov made the surprise announcement today during a parliament meeting. Bulgarians have been clashing with police in national protests.
This is all in recent days. They are upset about high energy costs and a low standard of living. It is not clear if a parliamentary election scheduled for July will now be moved up.
BERMAN: A last-minute stay of execution for twice convicted killer Warren Lee Hill. Hill was scheduled to die by lethal injection last night. A federal appeals court stopped the process. Hill was already serving life when he was sentenced to death for killing a fellow inmate. Supporters has he has an IQ of 70 and should be deemed mentally disabled and therefore, constitutionally exempt from execution.
SAMBOLIN: A body found on a rooftop water tank in a downtown L.A. hotel has been identified. The 21-year-old Elisa Lam was a tourist from Canada. She was last seen at the Hotel Cecil nearly three weeks ago. Her body was found last night after people that live in the hotel complained that their water pressure was low. Police are not sure if she died accidentally or if there was foul play involved.
BERMAN: How do you end up in a water tank? That's the question a lot of people are asking.
BERMAN: Later this morning, former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will be in a Washington, D.C. courtroom where he is expected to plead for misusing campaign funds. Prosecutors says he took more than $750,000 from his campaign coffers and spent it on personal items like furniture, clothing, memorabilia and a $43,000 Rolex watch.
Jackson's wife, former Chicago alderman Sandra Stevens Jackson, she will make her own court appearance a few hours later. She will plead guilty for filing false tax returns.
SAMBOLIN: A lot of trouble for that family. It's 8 minutes past the hour. Apple confirms its computers were targeted by hackers for Apple. A small number of Mac computers were hacked. No internal data was stolen. They are the same ones that breached Facebook's computers last month.
BERMAN: While you were sleeping, China's military denying accusations it has been carrying out cyber attacks against the U.S. from this 12- story building in Shanghai or any place else for that matter.
The forceful denial comes a day after Virginia cyber security firm, Mandiant, released a report about hacking collective. It claims has direct ties to the Chinese military. Mandiant says that since 2006, the hackers have stolen data from at least 141 organizations around the world.
You have to check out what happened when a CNN camera crew tried to get shots of this Shanghai office tower today. They found themselves being chased by security guards, those guards running awfully quickly. You wonder why we are a little suspicious perhaps of what's going on in that office tower.
SAMBOLIN: Incredible video. All right, Russia taking action this morning with implications after the suspicious death of a young Russian boy. He was adopted by American parents. We're going to live to Moscow, ahead.
BERMAN: Plus, a driver gets pulled over by a cop who is obviously not a college football fan or a fan of The Grateful Dead for that matter. Find out what happened, coming up.
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 12 minutes past the hour. The search is on right now for two people who are still unaccounted for after a massive explosion at a popular restaurant in Kansas City.
An apparent natural gas blast destroyed this right here, J.J's Restaurant. Fourteen people are hurt and at this hour, police and fire investigators says that it does appear to be an accident.
So let's bring in Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Fire Chief Paul Berardi of the Kansas City Fire Department. Mayor, we understand that you have been on the scene all night long. So we sincerely appreciate you joining us right now. The two people that are still missing, do we know if they were patrons or employees of the restaurant?
MAYOR SLY JAMES, KANSAS CITY: Well, actually we do know that there is now only one missing person. We were able to locate -- the fire chief was able to locate the other person at about midnight at a local hospital. They had driven -- managed to get into the hospital. There is a missing employee of J.J.'s at this point.
SAMBOLIN: Is that a man or a woman?
JAMES: It is a woman and the chief has been in touch with the family overnight. Keeping them apprised of the situation and attempts to find the individual will be ongoing as soon as it gets a little lighter and we can get heavy equipment into the scene.
SAMBOLIN: Now the chief had said earlier that he believed this was an accident. Do we know anything else about the cause of the fire? Was it a gas explosion? What caused it?
JAMES: Well, we don't -- we can't say for sure it was a gas explosion although there is some evidence that might support that. But again, we don't want to speculate. Certainly an issue of gas involved in the incident, but whether -- that was the actual cause or not is something undergoing a continued investigation and will.
At this point, Kansas City Fire Department, Kansas City Police, bomb and arson squad. ATF, all involved in the investigation. At some point in time, they will be able to answer that definitively and until then we don't want to speculate.
SAMBOLIN: And could you please ask the fire chief for me, if the reports we're hearing there was a smell of gas in the neighborhood if that has been confirmed and how far were people smelling that gas?
JAMES: Chief, they want to know if you can confirm there was a smell of gas in the neighborhood prior to the incident and how far away the smell was observable?
PAUL BERARDI, FIRE CHIEF, KANSAS CITY: Yes, we can confirm there was the smell of gas.
JAMES: Look at the camera.
BERARDI: Yes, we can confirm that, but the investigation is -- that's about the extent of the investigation at this point.
SAMBOLIN: Gentlemen, I know you are working hard to try to solve this. And we wish you luck with this. One person that's missing, a woman who worked there at the restaurant.
Appreciate your time. Goodluck and again thank you for being with us this morning, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Fire Chief Paul Berardi.
JAMES: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: Nice to hear from them on the scene. They have been you up all night. So, interesting.
Fifteen minutes after the hour right. We're going to bring you up to speed on all of the headlines right now. Christine Romans is here with that. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.
A decision unveiled for Olympic track star accused of murdering his girlfriend. It could happen at any moment. And dramatic new details coming in right now. Pistorius defense team claiming his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp's body showed no signs of her defending herself. The first officer on the scene agreed.
But, earlier, that officer testified he believed that Pistorius' action were in no way self-defense. He also said two boxes of testosterone and needles were found in the home. The defense though says that was legal herbal medication.
New this morning, Russia's children's rights commissioner wants to put a stop to all international adoptions in Russia, following the death of 3-year-old Max Shatto in Texas last month. The boy adopted in Russia by American parents. The Russian commissioner is demanding the return of Max's younger brother, Kirill, who was adopted by the same family.
President Obama ratcheting up the president by Congress to avoid those forced across-the-board spending cuts that kicked March 1st. The president spoke as first responders looked on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These cuts are not smart, they are not fair. They will hurt the economy. They will add 100,000 Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction. People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: The president criticized Republican ideas because they, quote, "ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or big corporations."
Coming up on "STARTING POINT", Soledad talked with Democratic businessman Erskine Bowles about preventing those deep cuts. He's favored an updated version of the failed 2010 budget plan he drew up with the former Wyoming senator, Republican Senator Alan Simpson.
All right. Live pictures for you right now. Massive protests in Athens, Greece. Two main private and public sector unions are holding a 24-hour general strike. They are protesting something that people in Greece have been furious about, austerity -- austerity programs imposed by international creditors. So, again, in Athens, you can see strikes by public union folks and that's why we got people in the streets.
All right. This is a bumper sticker. A Tennessee police officer not an Ohio State football fan. He pulled over a couple after confusing the Buckeye sticker on their bumper with a pot leaf. Bonnie Jonah- Boggioni and her husband were driving home from a funeral in Ohio when they were pulled over in I-40 in Tennessee. The officer told the woman she needed to scrape the marijuana sticker off her car.
After the couple set the officer straight, he let them go without a ticket.
BERMAN: Those are stickers that go on all the Ohio State Buckeye player helmets. I mean, it's pretty well known.
SAMBOLIN: I would have loved to have been part of that conversation. Why did you pull me over? Really?
BERMAN: I'm sure you will take it really well.
SAMBOLIN: Yes. Thank you, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
BERMAN: Eighteen minutes after the hour right now.
And remember PlayStation? Well, the company is trying for a comeback today. We will have details, coming up next.
SAMBOLIN: I'm sure you're on board.
SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you and welcome back to EARLY START. Christine is here minding your business.
ROMANS: OK. There is a major event, a major blockbuster event happening in New York later today. It is not a fine art auction. It is not the world premiere of a film.
BERMAN: It's bigger.
ROMANS: It is bigger and more important to mankind. Gamers out there are treating this like the Oscars. Sony is expected to unveil its PlayStation 4 console. Very big deal.
Can you believe it's been more than six years since PlayStation 3 hit the shelves? That console was cutting edge with a blue ray player, wireless controller. Sony is not talking about this publicly yet, not giving us any hints.
SAMBOLIN: Too bad.
ROMANS: Building the drama, and no one has accidentally left one in a bar like the iPhone prototypes.
But tech bloggers are buzzing. Reports say there could be a new motion control sensor or your phone may be the only control you'll need. It should have some sort of improved streaming feature. Also, social networking to connect with friends.
PlayStation is playing catch up to Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendos' Wii at this point. Expect those console to be available late summer or fall, just in time for holiday shopping. BERMAN: That is a big deal. They feel they went to that space.
SAMBOLIN: We could have tried it out for them. See if it works for the adults too.
BERMAN: We will know soon enough what is in that.
ROMANS: I'm not sure what their audience, I'm not sure we're their demographic.
BERMAN: Above 30 year past.
SAMBOLIN: I think I would be. When you have little kids -- have you little kids.
ROMANS: I do, I do. So far, a few them is (INAUDIBLE) in technology --
BERMAN: What is the one thing we need to know about our money?
ROMANS: A really interesting new study from HSBC that found millions are expected to outlive their retirements. Surprise, surprise. And Americans respondents expect their savings to only 14 years. Their retirement will last 21 years. That math don't work, folks.
Reminder, if people are going to live, you're going to have more health care cost. It's time to give the retirement calculator a big workout.
Interesting thing in this HSBC study that I found, people in Asia, they tend to focus on long-term planning like retirement, making sure they don't end up without any money in the end.
In the United States and Western economies, we tend to focus on things like vacations. When we save it's for the short term. It's not for the long term. In Asia, they save for the long term, not the short term. Interesting, right?
SAMBOLIN: All right. We try to --
ROMANS: Save more money!
SAMBOLIN: I know, I know.
ROMANS: I don't mean to be depressing. It's supposed to get you to save more.
SAMBOLIN: Motivating, motivating.
BERMAN: Depressing but important.
ROMANS: They should say that under my name.
SAMBOLIN: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Joe Biden shooting from the hip on the issue of guns, not how you might expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Or walk out, put that double barrel shotgun and fire two blasts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: What else the vice president had to say, coming up.