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Russian Ballet Acid Attack; Syrian Refugee Count: 1,000,000

Aired March 6, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Snowed out in the nation's capital. No school, no work, and federal offices with a major winter storm hitting right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Stock futures soaring even higher overnight. Wall Street opening this morning at an all-time high.

SAMBOLIN: A leading ballet dancer arrested in a really bizarre acid attack that nearly blinded a famous theater director.

BERMAN: And could another Bush be running for the White House in 2016? CNN's Jake Tapper puts the question to Florida's Jeb Bush.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. Glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, March 6th. It is 31 minutes after the hour.

And right now, winter weather alerts are in effect for much of the central eastern part of the country, this comes after this brutal big storm has blanketed several cities and grounded flights from the Dakotas to Ohio. Chicago saw a record snowfall for the day, this March kind of day, with ten inches at O'Hare International and 3 1/2 fell in Indianapolis.

Columbus, Ohio had nearly four inches of snow on the ground and forecast for today in D.C., three to eight inches with up to 15 inches in the eastern suburbs. That's a lot for those parts. Karen Maginnis is monitoring the storm for us. We will get to Karen in a second. In the meantime, Shannon Travis live at Dulles International Airport.

Shannon, we want to start with you because I can hear the tremors of terror from Washington, D.C. The biggest storm at a long, long time. How are you all preparing down there?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: They're really preparing, John, by taking the most important steps, which is protecting lives. You can see that it's coming down pretty hard. On the way over here, we saw a lot of salt trucks on the roads laying down salts to obviously protect motorists. Here at Dulles, they're canceling a lot of flights that are affected in the path of the storm, over 1,000 flights canceled from the five U.S. airlines and just got to rattle off a few numbers from the individual airlines.

United, 650 flights canceled, mostly to and from Dulles here where we're at. U.S. Air, 350, American only 24 today, but 360 flights canceled yesterday. Delta, we're still waiting on a number for flight cancel today, 120 for yesterday, and Southwest says that no major cancellations for right now.

One couple that we actually caught up with, John, hope that they won't be in that situation. They're headed to the Philippines. Take a listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going halfway around the world to the Philippines to meet her parents.

TRAVIS: How do you going to get there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray we do, and hopefully, everyone who's watching pray for us, too.


TRAVIS: Now, John, most of the airlines are offering passengers affected by this storm a one-time change fee, day fee, free of charge. One other thing, Amtrak which serves the corridor between D.C. all the way up to Boston says they expect to be on track -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Shannon Travis, our thanks to you. More than eight inches of snow, perhaps, expected for the D.C. metropolitan area. Thanks, Shannon.

SAMBOLIN: That's a lot of snow for them. All right. Karen Maginnis is tracking the system for us. Karen, what can we expect?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is really going to be quite the event that takes place over the next 24 to 36 hours because the storm system is still evolving. It is still going to be a snow maker going into Thursday and for Friday. But for Washington, D.C., could be the biggest snowfall that we've seen since 1999, is probably going to be the biggest snowfall for March, and it is the heaviest snowfall event that we're expecting for the season.

It took a while for winter to kick in, but here it is. A lot of the metro area going to be stymied by this heavy wet snowfall along with some gusty winds. And here go, Joe Johns was in Winchester. Their elevation is close to a thousand feet, right around 800 to a thousand. They could see 15 to 20 inches of snow.

Right now for Washington, D.C., a winter storm warning. We knew it was going to be upgraded yesterday just under a watch. Area of low pressure moves off the coast, slows down, elongates. So, New York City, tonight going into Thursday, and then for Boston, you're looking at the potential for four to eight inches of snow and we could see some coastal flooding -- John, Zoraida.

BERMAN: All right. Karen, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: What a mess.

Thirty-four minutes past the hour here. All eyes are on Wall Street this morning. Investors pinching themselves wondering how long this incredible run could potentially last. The Dow making history yesterday, closing at a record high, 14,253, after gaining 125 points. And we could be heading up from here four hours from now, because Dow futures are pointing higher, suggesting a bounce at the opening bell.

BERMAN: So, we have a developing story this morning from Russia. Police there say three people have now confessed to an acid attack that left the artistic director of the famous Bolshoi Ballet disfigured. And the alleged mastermind of the attack is the Bolshoi's lead dancer.

CNNs Phil Black is following the developments for us live from Moscow. Phil, this just sounds like an amazing crazy story here. What's the latest?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed. Among the three people that police have detained over this, John, is Pavel Dmitrichenko, who is the leading dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, and they say that he has confessed to this attack against his artistic director, Sergei Filin.

In that attack, Filin was outside his apartment building here in Moscow one night when he says someone called his name, he turned around and then someone threw a jar of acid in his face. Police say they have now detained the person, as well, who they believe threw the acid. They say he's confessed to that as well as a third person who they say helped as a driver that night, John.

BERMAN: Any sense of a motive, Phil? I mean, a breathing (ph) accounts of this, and they've been talking about the relationship between the dancer and the artistic director, there may have been money involved, there may have been a woman involved. Any sense of what the motive might have been?

BLACK: Well, police believe in the broader sense, they have confirmed what has always been suspected in this and that they say that this was triggered by what they describe as hostile relations professionally between the two men. From the day of this attack, all people here have been talking about are the bitter feuds, the rivalries, the jealousies that are known to exist within the Bolshoi dance company

But up until the arrests were made, the people who were working there desperately hoping that the person ultimately found to be responsible would not be someone they know and work with, John.

BERMAN: All right. Phil, more intrigue in this very interesting story. Our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): George Zimmerman will not seek immunity under Florida's stand your ground law. His lawyer just canceled a hearing next month to determine whether the law even applies in this case. Instead, he's going to try to convince the jury that Zimmerman shot and killed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in self-defense. Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial begins June 10th.

BERMAN (voice-over): So despite all the anticipation, there doesn't seem to be any rush to choose the next pope. The cardinals of the Catholic Church say they plan to keep the same measured pace today that they have the last few days after two meetings on Monday and another yesterday. The cardinals took time for private talks and research.

Two-thirds of the electors either don't live in Rome or come from faraway diocese, and they generally need more time to get to know one another and also the potential contenders, the timing of the conclave where they will actually select the next pope, the timing is not set.

SAMBOLIN: And Best Buy is the latest corporation to end its flexible work program. 4,000 non-store employees who've been working from home must now get manager approval to telecommute or set flexible schedules. You know, just last week, Yahoo!'s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, banned all telecommunicating at the struggling internet firm.

BERMAN: A new trend, it seems like.

So, the most trusted comedian in America, I guess (ph), is leaving --


BERMAN: -- anchor desk for a little bit. "Deadline" reports that Jon Stewart will take a 12- week break from the "Daily Show" this summer to direct his first film. A serious film, a drama called "Rose Water" from a screenplay that he wrote. Regular contributor, John Oliver, will fill in on the anchor seat for most of that hiatus.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. So, they escaped in the dark of night, their flight exposed by a CNN crew with a special night vision camera. More dramatic images of these Syrian refugees, that's coming up.

BERMAN (on-camera): Plus, our very own CNNs Jake Tapper one-on-one with Florida governor, Jeb Bush, explaining his stance, the governor is, on immigration reform and answering the question, will he run for president in 2016?


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. New developments in Syria's bloody civil war. The United Nation confirms that one million Syrians have now fled that war-ravaged country, becoming refugees in nations like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. And millions of others are living like refugees within their very own borders.

International correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh is live from Zaatari, the refugee camp in Jordan. And nick, what are the conditions there like?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, last night, we saw how perilous it is people just to get here. The Jordanian army took to that boulder with Syria (ph). In the darkness, you could hear the distant thought (ph) of artillery, but from that darkness emerged, people staggering over barren land toward what they see is safety here inside Jordan.

Rebels helping old women who can't walk fast enough, children, a six- month-year-old with a shrapnel wound to the head, a man with the chest wound, the tube taking blood from that, really terrified people wounded who hope when they get to Jordan here, they'll see some kind of safety. But the situation here is equally perilous. I'm standing in the last five minutes heard shelling not so far in the distance, and this is a camp expanding so fast, the people here can barely keep up with it, John.

BERMAN: It is such a dangerous trip to what many people think will be safety and (INAUDIBLE). It often turns out to be dangerous when you arrive as well. Nick, what kind of help is the U.S. offering right now in these efforts?

WALSH: Well, the U.S. has pledged (ph) half a billion dollars towards humanitarian. That's about a third of the amount that's needed. But even if that money is spent right now, they can't build this camp fast enough to keep up with the influx of refugees. Just here in Jordan, as many as 5,000 every night in neighboring Lebanon, one in ten people living there now is now a Syrian refugee.

I was here about a month ago and half of this camp simply wasn't here. Jordan really straining it seems to embrace this. No matter how much the international community does at this point, they'll never be able to move fast enough for an exodus that's simply getting worse, John.

BERMAN: All right. Nick Paton Walsh in the Zaatari Refugee Camp inside Jordan. It is for Syrian refugees. Our thanks to you this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-four minutes past the hour. When the Jodi Arias trial resumes this afternoon in Phoenix, the accused killer will be answering questions from the jury. Arizona is one of just three states that actually allows jurors to submit questions for witnesses once prosecution and defense lawyers have finished their questioning.

They will have 100 questions in total. The defense says Travis Alexander's murder was self-defense. , in her 15th day on the witness stand, testified about her boyfriend's past abuse.


JODI ARIAS, DEFENDANT: At first, I thought of clawing at his face, but then I couldn't do that. I didn't feel right to gouge his eyes out or something.


SAMBOLIN: All right. So, Arias has testified she shot alexander, but claims that she has zero memory of stabbing him 27 times or cutting his throat.

BERMAN: So, Jeb Bush is now front and center in the nation's immigration debate, and now, many people are wondering if that has implications for the 2016 presidential race. The former Florida governor has written a new book making his case for an overhaul of the nation's immigration system and he seems to support granting legal status to illegal immigrants, but not a path to citizenship, and that's angering a lot of immigrant rights group.

So, CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, trying to get clarification from the former Florida governor.


JEB BUSH, (R) FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I have supported both, both a path to legalization or a path to citizenship with the underlying principle being that there should be no incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally. Today, basically, the only path to come to this country other than family reunification is to come illegally.


BERMAN: So, one of the things that a lot of people do when considering running for president is they write a book so that had Jake wondering if that was the intention of the Florida governor, is he planning something for 2016. Listen to their exchange on that.


JAKE TAPPER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What kind of factors will you be weighing in the next year as you make this decision?

BUSH: Well, I'm not going to factor anything in a year. That's the only thing I've decided, which I think i have enough self-restraint to be able to pull off. I have an education reform foundation that is booming. I mean, it's -- we got all sorts of great things we're working on. And I have my business, I have my family. So, I'm not going to think about this for at least a year.


BERMAN: Democrats are not waiting to see whether Jeb Bush is a candidate or not. They're already responding. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, publicly declaring that Bush, quote, "made a fool of himself with his remarks on immigration."

SAMBOLIN: -- a flip-flopper. Wait a couple days and he'll change his mind again is what a lot of people are saying. Texans looking to come to Jesus. This is bizarre. Come to this local bar which also happens to be a church. More on this kind of a strange arrangement coming up.

If you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, and welcome back to EARLY START. Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine Romans with our top stories.



ROMANS (voice-over): Put on your boots, east coast. Happening now, the D.C. area prepping for its worst winter storm in years. The nation's capital at ground zero this morning of this powerful winter blast that has made the mess, a big mess of the Midwest. Over a thousand flights have been canceled, mostly at Chicago, where, of course, as the storm blankets the region.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): At least they have cots to sleep in at O'Hare.

ROMANS: They home.

Dow futures pointing higher this morning less than four hours from the opening bell. The Dow made history yesterday closing at a record high, 14,253. It gained 125 points. No records yet for the S&P or the NASDAQ.

Former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, is out of the hospital this morning. The 89-year-old Kissinger who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford, he was admitted Tuesday to New York Presbyterian hospital after he fell in his home on New York's east side. He was discharged several hours later. No details of his injuries have been released.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward, Serge Ibaka, won't miss any games, but he will pay the price for Sunday's low blow against the L.A. Clipper, Blake Griffin. The NBA has fined Ibaka $25,000 for this cheap shot which happened during the Thunder's 108-104 victory over the Clippers at the Staples Center. League officials say Ibaka should have been ejected by the refs following this flagrant foul.

BERMAN (voice-over): Yes.

SAMBOLIN: We concur. $25,000, is that a lot of money for him?


BERMAN (on-camera): These guys make a lot of money.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Right. (LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: He's had a lot of money for almost everyone else, maybe not a lot of money for that low, low blow.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS (on-camera): You're welcome.


BERMAN: Fifty-one minutes after the hour right now. In a city with more than 100 churches, the new Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas kind of stands out. You won't find crosses or pews inside, just some pool tables, stools, and plenty of alcohol. That's because the new church is also known around town as Memories Bar. The first service there will be held Sunday, March 24th.


VAN CONWELI, SOUTHERN HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST: We're trying to be here in a way that the communicates acceptance. Felt like this was the sort of thing Jesus would be doing. He'd be going to the places where people were who needed to hear about him.


BERMAN: Members of the Southern Hills Church of Christ say some folks are intimidated by typical churches, so they wanted to create a familiar environment for worship.

SAMBOLIN: I want to go.

BERMAN: Kids will be allowed inside the church during Sunday services. They will not start serving alcohol until 12:15 p.m., I presume, after the services are over.

SAMBOLIN: Good idea, bad idea? You don't want to weigh in, do you?


SAMBOLIN: I want to attend church service there. That's what I would love --

BERMAN: There should be a diversity of options in religious worship.

SAMBOLIN: Apparently, there are. Apparently, there are.

All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Oh no, he didn't. This is so bad. Justin Bieber tweeting an apology and feeling the backlash in a big way after keeping thousands of young fans waiting and waiting and waiting. And you know, parents, it was on a school night.


BERMAN: So, you're looking at top CNN Trends on the internet this morning. Justin Bieber --

SAMBOLIN: He is in trouble.

BERMAN: He's in big trouble, saying he's sorry this morning after kind of pulling an Axl Rose here. Justin Bieber was booed heartily by fans in London after showing up on stage Monday night, the fans say, two hours late.




BERMAN: Bieber not used to hearing that. Bieber did not arrive on stage at the 02 Arena until 10:23 p.m. just before he was due to actually finish, and all this happened on a school night. Some fans reportedly fell asleep waiting. Bieber tweeted an apology. He says, "There is no excuse for that and I apologize for anyone we upset. However, it was a great show and I'm proud of that."


BERMAN: But some say the apology came too late. Bieber actually said he was only 40 minutes late. There's a discrepancy there. The fans say two hours.

SAMBOLIN: That's a huge discrepancy and there's really no explanation as to why he was late. So, I remain angry and I wasn't even there.

Yes. All right. Golden anniversary silver streak, Lamborghini is making its -- or marking its 50th anniversary with its fastest model ever. It is called the Veneno. It's got a 750 horsepower engine that can slingshot it from 0 to 60 in about three seconds with a top speed of 220 miles an hour. Price tag, about $4 million. They're only making three of them and they already have buyers.


BERMAN: I wonder what Veneno means.

SAMBOLIN: Do you really?


SAMBOLIN: So, did I. So, I looked it up this morning for you. So, first of all, like all Lamborghinis, their names are derived from a bull. Did you know that?

BERMAN: Of course.

SAMBOLIN: OK. So, this was -- Veneno was, apparently, a particularly speedy animal from the early 1900's. So, now you know. I thought it was veneno which is poison in Spanish, but, no, apparently, it's an animal.

BERMAN: I made the same mistake.

SAMBOLIN: A fast, fast animal.

BERMAN: To check our other top trends, head to

SAMBOLIN: All right.

BERMAN: Picking the next pope, the new Bush book, and more all in your late night laughs.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Cardinals from all over the world are now gathering in Rome to select the next pope. Yes. You can watch the entire process on the new season of "Vaticans Got Talent."


O'BRIEN: In his new book, former President George H.W. Bush defends his son, George W. Bush. Yes. The book is called "Do You Know How Many Times We Dropped Him?"


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan strong man and friend of the show, is dead. Repeat, Hugo Chavez is dead. Obviously, this leaves, -- I know. Obviously, this leaves a huge hole in South American politics and an even bigger collection of flag track suits.

But our other breaking story tonight, Jon Stewart has announced he will be taking the summer off from "The Daily Show". Yes. We wish him all the best in his new project, ruling the country of Venezuela.




SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN (voice-over): Heavy wet snow falling from Chicago to the nation's capital. It's happening right now as a major winter storm closes in on the east coast. We are live right in the middle of it.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Developing overnight. Stock futures climbing with the Dow set to open at an all-time high. That should happen just hours from now.

BERMAN: And a new low for high culture. This is just nuts. A star ballet dancer confesses his role in a vicious acid attack on his director. And we just learned that he confessed on camera. SAMBOLIN: Look out below. The dramatic collapse of a construction crane. It was all caught on camera. Everyone there A-OK. But still, very cool pictures.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. Glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): I'm glad you're with us, also. I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, March 6th. 6:00 a.m. in the east.