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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Huge Snowstorm Moves East; Dow Opening At All-Time High; Russian Ballet Acid Attack; Best Buy Ends Work-From-Home; Domestic Drone Strike Against Americans; Obama Adviser Backs Online Petition

Aired March 6, 2013 - 06:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And enjoy it while it lasts. Another big company going Yahoo!'s way, saying no more working from home.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Boohoo!

BERMAN: We don't get to work from home.

SAMBOLIN: That's true.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

SAMBOLIN: I'm happy for the folks that do, you know?

BERMAN: Some people need it.

Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us.

Wednesday, March 6th, 30 minutes past the hour.

Right now, snow falling on the nation's capital. Winter weather alerts are in effect for much of the central eastern part of the country. Take a look at that map. This monster storm blanketed several cities, grounded flights from the Dakotas to Ohio.

Chicago saw record snowfall for the day with 10 inches at O'Hare International; 3 1/2 inches fell on Indianapolis. Columbus, Ohio, had nearly four inches of snow on the ground and forecasted for today in D.C., three to eight inches, with up to 15 in the eastern suburbs. Those poor folks.

Karen Maginnis is monitoring the storm for us and Shannon Travis is live at Dulles International Airport.

So, Shannon, let's start with you. This is expected to be the worst storm the nation's capital has ever seen. How are they preparing for this?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, I prepared by pulling out my big puffy red coat, but more importantly, officials throughout the region are preparing by taking the most important steps and that really is to save lives. We've seen road crews out on the roads all morning, even here at Dulles, putting salt on the roads for any motorists that might be going out.

Obviously, we reported that federal offices here in the area are closed due to the storm and flight cancellations. The five major airlines, Zoraida, have canceled over 1,000 of them for our viewers listening, I'm going to list them off by airline.

United, 650 flight cancellations so far that we've tracked. Most of them in and out of Dulles. U.S. Air, 350. American, 20 just for today, but 360 from yesterday.

Delta, we're still waiting for a firm number from them, but 120 flight cancellations yesterday. And Southwest not reporting any major cancellations.

One couple that we spoke with here at Dulles, they're trying to go someplace much sunnier than this and they're hoping that they get out. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

TRAVIS: And you're going to get there?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Zoraida, we got an update from them and they say their flight is still on track.

Some other people we spoke with said that they're not so lucky, they'll be sleeping here. Most of the airlines are offering passengers a chance to change their flight status, their flight times for one time for no fee -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: That's really good. You know, that's kind of the problem, right, Shannon, that that ripple effect that happens. You take one flight, you know --

TRAVIS: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: -- the other one canceled, it becomes a nightmare.

Thanks for that. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: This is turning into a really difficult storm to track. Karen Maginnis has been trying. He is live right now at our weather center in Atlanta.

Karen, what do things look like right now?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, just watching what has happened at the Capitol and the White House, the snow has really increased just in the last hour or so. I want to show you a picture of that right now.

The snowfall rates are increasing it looks like and the wind has increased as well. Beautiful shot coming out of there, but if you are trying to get out on the roads this afternoon, we are going to see significant snowfall. They are saying it is going to really impact greatly right around the metropolitan area, with maybe four to eight, five to 10.

The forecast models have really been all over the place. Even for New York, it looks like a heavy wet snow there. Boston estimated to be four to eight inches.

If Washington, D.C., sees anything in that eight to 10-inch range, it looks like it could make the top five March snowfall totals that we have seen since records were kept. For the Northeast, the storm system is going to stall a little bit as it moves out toward the Atlantic, so that's the reason why we're still forecasting this event to take place across northeastern New England, along that I-95 corridor with those winds gusting up to near 50 miles an hour.

BERMAN: All right, Karen. Karen Maginnis, our thanks to you. We will keep on watching.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Wall Street this morning. Investors are pinching themselves wondering how long this incredible run is going to last. The Dow making history yesterday, closing at a record high, 14,253 after gaining 125 points. And we could be heading up from there in just three hours when the market opens, because Dow futures are pointing higher, suggesting a bounce at the opening bell.

SAMBOLIN: And a developing story this morning from Russia. A possible case of rage, jealousy and revenge at the ballet. Police say a star dancer with the Bolshoi ballet has confessed to attacking the theater company's director with acid. He's one of three people that are now this custody.

CNN's Phil Black is following all of the developments for us.

And we learned earlier that there was a confession on camera. Did all three of them confess to this?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it looks that way, Zoraida, indeed. I want to show you some of that video now -- the video which you should hopefully be seeing -- is Pavel Dmitrichenko, who is the leading dancer with the Bolshoi ballet and this video clip was released by Russian police.

In it, he is heard confessing to this attack. He speaks in Russian and he says, "I organized this attack but not to the extent that it happened."

And there was also video of the other two people who have been arrested in connection to this.

Now, what happened? Well, that was back in January. Bolshoi's artistic director Sergei Filin was outside his home in Moscow. And he says someone called his name, he turned around and someone through sulfuric acid, a jar of it, into his face.

Police say of the two other people that they have and who are confessing on this video, one of them is the man who threw the jar of acid and the other who one acted as a driver that night -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: This is crazy. Why would anybody do something like this? Do they have a motive in this case?

BLACK: Well, the motive, as mentioned by police, is hostile relations between the two men professionally. But that has been what everyone in Moscow has been talking about and speculating about right from the beginning, because there's potentially a very long list of people who would fit that description, who could have hostile professional relations with Sergei Filin.

As the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, he makes and breaks careers. He decides productions, decides who gets what parts, decides the overall artistic direction of the company. And this is something that people within the Bolshoi have lots of very passionate, strong feelings about.

So other than just this very simple description from the police, hostile relations, we haven't heard the details. We'll listen to hear those in court -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Phil Black reporting live from Moscow, thank you.

BERMAN: We have new developments in the Trayvon Martin alleged murder case. Gunman George Zimmerman will not seek immunity under Florida's "stand your ground" law. His lawyer just cancelled a hearing next month to determine whether the law applies. Instead, he will try to convince a jury that Zimmerman shot and killed the teenager in self defense.

Zimmerman's second degree murder trial begins on June 10th.

SAMBOLIN: And apparently despite all the anticipation, there is no rush to choose the next pope. The cardinals of the Catholic Church say they plan to keep the same measured pace today. After two meetings on Monday and another one yesterday, the cardinals took time for private talks and for research.

Two-thirds of the electors either don't live in Rome or they come from faraway diocese and they generally need more time to get to know one another and the potential contenders. The timing of the conclave is still not set.

BERMAN: Taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

Best Buy becoming the latest company to end its work from home program. Four thousand non-store employees who have been telecommuting must now get manager approval to continue working from home or on flexible schedules. Just last week, everyone remembers that Yahoo!'s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, banned all employees from working at home at the struggling internet giant. SAMBOLIN: Good night and good luck. Deadline reports that Jon Stewart will take a 12-week break, just a break from "The Daily Show" to direct his first movie. It's a drama called "Rosewater" from a screenplay that he wrote. Regular contributor John Oliver will fill in the anchor seat for most of the time, we understand.

BERMAN: So we know that the U.S. military uses drones overseas, but would our government execute a drone strike right here on American soil? The answer here might surprise you. We're going to go live to the Pentagon, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Soledad O'Brien is joining us with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning, right at the top of the hour. A major snowstorm could cripple the nation's capital. Schools, federal offices are already closed. Some surrounding areas could see up to 20 inches of snow. We'll live on the ground this morning and tell you where the storm is headed right at the top of the hour.

Hard to treat infections on the rise because of a dangerous superbug that hospitals are now worried about. We'll look at what doctors are saying about the deadly bacteria.

And a teenager who was willing to walk ten miles in an ice storm for a job interview ended up being stopped by a restaurant owner who hired him for his dedication before he even got to the job interview. Now, both men are talking about the positive attention their story is getting and how they're both paying it forward. We'll explain how you can help when you hear their story.

That's all ahead on "STARTING POINT" right at the top of the hour.

SAMBOLIN: That is fantastic. I'm glad you're doing that story. Thank you, Soledad.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much.

A story that's really caught a lot of people's attention out of Washington right now. The Obama administration will not rule out the possibility of using drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky had been threatening to hold up the confirmation of John Brennan for CIA director until his questions about the administration's domestic drone policy were addressed. Now, Rand Paul has his answer.

Chris Lawrence live from the Pentagon this morning.

So what exactly, Chris, is the White House policy on these drones?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, this is going to be somewhat shocking for a lot of Americans who may not have imagined that their government, the U.S. government, would ever assert this kind of power.

But in his letter, Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States, spells it out for Rand Paul and now for the rest of us as well. Now, he does say that the possibility of a lethal drone strike on an American on U.S. soil is hypothetical, unlikely to occur and something he hopes no president would ever have to face.

But, quote, "It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."

He goes on to provide some of those so-called extraordinary examples, such as trying to prevent, say, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

But again, John, this gets into some murky areas. Would it be to prevent, say, the Oklahoma City bombing? At what point, you know, would the administration deem the impending attack to be so grievous that the U.S. could authorize a drone strike on an American here in the United States without any trial.

BERMAN: Chris, we have absolutely not heard this policy laid out like this before. This is new information. Not a lot of Americans are getting, correct?

LAWRENCE: Exactly. We've never heard this.

Now, the Obama administration has laid out some of its drone -- it's authorizations to use drones overseas, even legally justifying the killing of the American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. He was targeted but he was in Yemen.

There was a lot of people who believe there couldn't be this sort of targeting here in the United States. And to be fair, the Obama administration and Eric Holder are saying there are no plans to do so. They were only responding to a hypothetical question that Rand Paul asked. But, what is hypothetical today may not be hypothetical for presidents in the future, John.

BERMAN: That's absolutely correct. And I suspect we have not heard the last of this. Chris Lawrence, our thanks to you.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-five minutes past the hour. New developments in Syria's bloody civil war. A new milestone. The U.N. reports that one million citizens have now fled the country, becoming refugees in nations like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. And the U.N. says millions of other Syrians are living like refugees right inside their own borders.

BERMAN: Police in West Nashville, Tennessee, want to know who stole some silverware and jewelry from Senator Lamar Alexander's house. The Republican senior senator from Tennessee was in Washington at the time. His wife, Honey Alexander, called police Tuesday afternoon to report the break-in after she noticed the jewelry and silverware missing.

SAMBOLIN: Another Bush may be eyeing the White House. Jeb Bush back in the national spotlight with comments on the nation's immigration debate. The former Florida governor has a new book out making his case for an overhaul of America's immigration system, and he seems to back legal status for illegal immigrants but not a path to citizenship.

That's angering a lot of immigrant rights groups. CNN anchor and chief White House correspondent, Jake Tapper, pressing the former governor about his position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The timing of Jeb Bush's book has a lot of people wondering if he is looking to run for president in 2016. He told Jake he doesn't even plan to think about that for at least another year.

BERMAN: So coming up, fast cars and handguns. What could be the end of a NASCAR tradition?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: 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 allow jurors to submit questions for witnesses once prosecution and defense lawyers have finished. They'll have 100 questions in total.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): The defense says Travis Alexander's murder was self-defense. Arias in her 15th day on the witness stand testified about her boyfriend's past abuse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Arias has testified she shot Alexander but claims she has no memory of stabbing him 27 times or cutting his throat. SAMBOLIN (voice-over): An online petition demanding that cell phone customers be able to freely unlock their phones received some really unexpected support from the Obama administration. R. David Edelman, the Obama administration senior adviser for internet innovation and privacy partially agreed with the petition's argument.

He said that any mobile device that has locked to a particular wireless provider should be unlockable once a user's contract is up. The petition has received more than 114,000 signatures.

BERMAN: The Denver Broncos Von Miller, one of the best linebackers in the NFL, is so inspired by his six-year-old cousin's recovery from a coma, he's guaranteed a Super Bowl win next season.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Now, Joe Carter has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, guys. You've got to wonder what Peyton Manning thinks about this guarantee, but it's a very strong prediction. No doubt that it's a strong prediction, but it comes from a really good place. He's basically supporting a boy who just dodged death, his family member.

Monday, Miller tweeted this. "You can post it anywhere. The Denver Broncos will win the Super Bowl in the 2013 season." He added hash tags #4ujeremiah and "I guaranteed 58." When six-year-old Jeremiah came out of his coma, he told ever single person in the hospital room that his cousin, Von Miller, plays football for the Denver Broncos. In a recent radio interview, Miller talked about why that fired him up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My younger cousin, he got in a wreck about a week ago, and he just got out of a coma. He remembered that his cousin plays for the Denver Broncos and his name is Von Miller. That's a little bit, you know, extra for me, and I'm extremely motivated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: All right. It's considered the most unique celebration in sports, and it could be changing very soon. For years, you've seen the winning NASCAR driver at the race in Texas celebrate by firing two six-shooters into the air from victory lane. Well, the track president is saying that he's willing to change this.

He's willing to alter it if any of the race's sponsors are opposed to this type of celebration.

A fan at the Lakers/Thunder game, this guy nailed a half court shot. What did he win? $20,000. If anyone could use the money, it's this guy. His wife, a high school teacher, has cancer. And not only does this family have mounting hospital bills, they have to feed seven kids. The Miami Heat put out their version of the Harlem Shake last week. Lebron James and company doing a pretty good job -- the best job of any sports team out there. Well, the Minnesota Timberwolves, like a lot of us, are a little sick of this dance craze.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARTER: And that's how you put an end to a viral video. He's feeling like a lot of people out there, enough of this already.

BERMAN: That's awesome.

CARTER: And finally, the Chicago Blackhawks, they extended their record-setting point street to 23 straight games last night by beating the wild.

SAMBOLIN: Yey!

CARTER: Our friends at Bleacher Report are predicting that this team will not win the Stanley Cup.

BERMAN: How do you like that?

SAMBOLIN: What?

CARTER: That's a bold prediction. A lot of predictions this morning, guys. I predict that my time is up. So, I'll see you later.

SAMBOLIN: But I may have to root for the Denver Broncos now. That is such a sweet story. Thank you for that.

BERMAN: So, this was the day that many people never thought we'd see, maybe. Teen sensation, Justin Bieber, getting booed. What he did that so outraged all his fans coming up next.

SAMBOLIN: And it wasn't his wardrobe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, welcome back, everyone. Baby, baby, baby, no.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Yes, brace yourselves, folks. Justin Bieber getting booed. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That's right, folks. That booing when fans in London fed up after they say Bieber showed up on stage Monday night two hours late. Parents were extra upset since it was a school night. Some fans reportedly fell asleep while they were waiting. Bieber went to Twitter to say he was sorry to the fans.

SAMBOLIN: But no explanation as to why he was two hours late.

BERMAN: Unacceptable behavior.

SAMBOLIN: It is unacceptable. That's it for us. That's EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm john Berman. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, a major winter storm is slamming the east coast, dumped a record snow in the Midwest. Now, here's a live look at flakes that are starting to fall in the nation's capital. We'll take a look this morning at the damage that's already been caused and tell you who can expect to get hit next.

Plus, the CDC sounding the alarm about a superbug that's nearly untreatable and it's spreading. Are you at risk? We'll have a live report this morning with what you need to know.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Stock futures are climbing this morning after the Dow finally reached an all-time high. Will we see another record at today's closing bell?

BERMAN: And you can't wear your shoes going through security, but you can now bring a small knife onto planes. The new TSA rules that have a lot of people scratching their heads this morning.

And this, did the Duchess of Cambridge let it slip if she's having a boy or a girl? The royal family might want to start buying pink.

O'BRIEN: Oh, it could be a girl. It's Wednesday, March 6th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Happening right now, a vicious winter storm is bearing down on the nation's capital. The heart of D.C. is expected to see four to eight inches of snow. Surrounding areas, though, could get 20 inches of snow. A severe weather warning is in effect for the region. D.C. area schools are closed. Federal offices, is what I'm trying to say, also closed.