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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

North Korea Ratchets Up Its Rhetoric; Intern Killed By African Lion; Senator Rand Paul End Filibuster; Jodi Arias Answers Jury Questions; Shark Sightings Close Florida Beaches; Strong Storm Slams Northeast; Dow Sets Another Record; Deficit Dinner Date; Stocks on a Roll: Time to Buy?

Aired March 7, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- now, this is, of course, happening as there are joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea planned for the next couple of days. They will carry on for a month. This is something that, of course, angers North Korea.

You mentioned those U.N. sanctions, which will be discussed and voted on in the next several hours, 10:00 a.m. in New York. It is expected that they will be enforced, tougher sanctions.

But as we know, Zoraida, tougher sanctions have not worked and the experts that we have spoken to here in Seoul say it's time for dialogue. That is the only way to move this forward.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I know, Anna, this is just happening so we don't have any response yet from the U.N. or the U.S., right?

COREN: Not at this stage. But certainly from the South Korean defense ministry we got word, Zoraida, that they are seeing more widespread military operations taking place in North Korea. Much on a grander scale, they said, which is highly unusual.

So that means that there are air, sea and land military exercises taking place. So you certainly get the impression that things are ratcheting up here and that tensions are much higher on the Korean Peninsula.

SAMBOLIN: That's troubling. Anna Coren live in Seoul, South Korea, thank you very much.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some new developments this morning in the horrifying mauling death of a female intern at an exotic cat sanctuary in California. What you're looking at here is exclusive CNN video of the 350-pound African lion who had to be shot and killed when refuse to allow anyone to approach the body of his victim, 24-year-old Diana Hanson. The young woman's father said Diana died doing what she loved most.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HANSON, VICTIM'S FATHER (via telephone): She was so happy when she got that internship. She was having so much fun down there. It was her dream job and she was so happy there. It makes it bearable that she died so happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The Project Survival Cat Haven in Dunlap, Florida, is where we find Dan Simon this morning. Dan, what is the latest on this tragic story?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Were the protocols followed, were they ignored, was this young woman lulled into some sense of security? We're outside of Cat Haven. Inside there are 50 rare exotic cats. The place had all the permits, was regulated by the state and seemed to have a decent reputation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a North African lion.

SIMON (voice-over): A lion shot dead Wednesday afternoon.

DALE HANSEN, CAT HAVEN FOUNDER: A female volunteer intern entered the lion's enclosure where she was attacked and fatally injured. The lion was shot and killed per our safety protocols. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friend and family -- and to her family at this time, at this trying time.

SIMON: The 24-year-old volunteer has been identified as Dianna Hanson from Washington State. Her Facebook page shows her picture with large cats. Her father released a statement last night saying in part, "Diane was so excited at working at Cat Haven and living in California. Her favorites were the tiger and the lion, Cous Cous, who killed her today.

Jennifer Michaels, also known as "Jungle Jenny" got an up-close view of the lion while getting a tour of the animal sanctuary called "Cat Haven in Central California.

JENNY MICHAELS, THE JUNGLE JENNY FOUNDATION: I didn't see any type of aggressive behavior or anything that I needed to be worried about.

SIMON: Cat Haven is a 100-acre wooded sanctuary, home to some of the rarest cats in the world, including lions, tigers and leopards. It describes itself as an innovative park, dedicated to the preservation of wildcats. The 5-year-old Cous Cous came to the sanctuary as a cub. Founder Dale Hansen said this species of lion no longer exists in the wild.

HANSEN: The North Africans were killed off in the wild in about the 1920s so all the ones you see are in captivity.

SIMON: As for the victim, Dianna Hanson, it's not clear exactly how she died, but her father says big cats were her passion, writing, "We will miss you so much, but I know that you will be happy. For now, you truly are in the eternal Cat Haven."

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIMON: And, John, I think what strikes you in that statement is the father, who also happens to be a lawyer, doesn't seem to have a trace of bitterness or animosity towards Cat Haven. In fact he said the way to honor his daughter's memory is to support preservation societies just like this one -- John.

BERMAN: Dan Simon, our thanks to you this morning. "STARTING POINT" will have much more on this attack. At 7 a.m., Soledad will be joined by noted wildlife expert, Jeff Corwin and then at 8 a.m. Jack Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo will join us live.

SAMBOLIN: And while you were sleeping, Rand Paul finally stopped talking. It only took 12 hours and 52 minutes. The Kentucky senator protesting the Obama administration's domestic drone policy with an old-fashioned filibuster, stopping only for an occasional drink or a bite of a Snickers bar that he brought with him while delaying the eventual confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan in order to make this point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: That no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Shannon Travis is live from Washington this morning. This was quite a long-winded ordeal.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was quite a long-winded ordeal, one that we haven't seen in a while. South Carolina's Strom Thurmond holds the record, 24 hours of a filibuster. Rand Paul says that he would have gone longer, Zoraida, but that nature has its limits and he was ending his filibuster to take care of one of them.

But all jokes aside, the senator is concerned about a central question can the U.S. mount a drone strike against Americans on U.S. soil? That's born out of some comments from Attorney General Eric Holder at a Senate hearing yesterday saying that he could envision the scenario.

So Paul is deeply concerned about Brennan being confirmed as CIA director. He's one of the architects of the program. The senator, Rand Paul, also used a little bit of a fairy tale metaphor to make his point. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Has America the beautiful become Alice's Wonderland? No, no said the queen. Sentence first, verdict afterwards. Stuff and nonsense, Alice said loudly, the idea of having the sentence first? Hold your tongue, said the queen, turning purple. I won't, said Alice. Release the drones said the queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice. Louis Carroll is fiction, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: And that's really the crux of this question here, can an American terror suspect be killed without due process in the courts. That's really what Rand Paul is concerned about. He actually had a little bit of an assist, Zoraida, from a Democrat, Ron White of Oregon, who took to the floor to help him with this filibuster -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: So how is the White House responding to this?

TRAVIS: Yes, the White House is responding. We know that Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday in that Senate hearing basically said that, look, this has never happened, it's not intended to happen. Take a listen at how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The government has no intention to carry out any drone strikes in the United States. It's hard for me to imagine a situation in which that would occur. We have within the United States the ability to use our law enforcement capacity. As a result, the use of drones is from my perspective something that is entirely, entirely hypothetical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Entirely hypothetical says Eric Holder, but again, you have some people on the far right and the far left who are concerned about even the possibility of that happening -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, hence that long filibuster. Thank you so much. Shannon Travis live from Washington.

It will be another day of questioning from the jurors when the Jodi Arias murder trial resumes in just a few hours from now. Arizona is one of three states that actually allows jury questions during a criminal proceeding. Arias answered nearly 100 of those questions yesterday, including one about her memory lapse after shooting boyfriend Travis Alexander.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it that you have no memory of stabbing Travis?

JODI ARIAS, ON TRIAL FOR MURDERING TRAVIS ALEXANDER: I can't really explain why my mind did what it did maybe because it's too horrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Travis Alexander was stabbed 27 times and his throat was slashed. If convicted, Arias could get the death penalty.

BERMAN: So sharks near shore and numbering in the thousands. Gosh, look at that.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to put this on a loop and give it to you for Christmas.

BERMAN: Just when lifeguards thought it would be safe to let people back in the water, they decided to close the beaches for a second day yesterday, a wise move. Shark sightings like these, we're talking tens of thousands of sharks here, these are actually fairly common this time of year. The sharks are moving north after spending the winter in the south, but, you know --

SAMBOLIN: As long as you're not swimming with them, Berman, you're safe. Actually some people can swim with them, right?

Anyway, it's 9 minutes past the hour here. Happening now, winter storm warnings are in effect again for at least eight states from New Jersey to Main as the powerful winter storm beats down on the northeast this morning.

This is that same system that made a mess of the Midwest and it paralyzed parts of Virginia with 20 inches of snow Wednesday, snarling traffic on the ground and in the air. More than 1,600 flights have been canceled at three major airports.

The governor declared a state of emergency in Virginia and mass power outages have at least 215,000 customers without electricity. So right now the northeast is bracing for snow, strong, gusty winds, and possible coastal flooding as well.

So Karen Maginnis is standing and monitoring the system for us. But we are going to begin with Jennifer Delgado. She is live in Massachusetts. How are those winds now? Pretty powerful I see.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Pretty powerful actually, Zoraida. It looks like they have actually come up about 10 miles per hour over the last hour. If you're looking out into the bay, again, we're in Situate, Massachusetts on the south shore.

You see the white caps and you see the waves crashing. That's what happens when you get the strong winds coming in from the north- northeast. Now we do have a coastal flood warning in place as well as wind advisory from areas including Virginia up towards Maine.

But for Massachusetts and especially those coastal areas that are facing north-northeast, they're going to be at the greatest risk for the coastal flooding as well as coastal erosion. Now if you look again, you can see how the rocks are protecting the area.

You see the docks. You see some of the fishing boats over towards the east. And, yes, some of those people are out there kind of really shoring up their boats. But keep in mind, we're expecting high tide to come at 6:50. When that does come, we're expecting a storm surge just under 3 feet.

So that's why they do have the National Guard in place because there is a voluntary evacuation in place in case some of those communities that are closer to the water get into some danger. Of course, many of these areas are more susceptible following the nor'easter that we had back in February and of course, Sandy that happened last year.

So again, conditions are bad here. The winds are picking up. We could still see some gusts up to about 60 miles per hour -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It is no rest for the weary. Jennifer, thank you for that. So let's get over to Karen Maginnis. Karen, we see what the storm has done to the Midwest, what it's doing to Virginia. D.C. seemed to avoid any major snow. We were expecting some serious snow here. We got wind instead. What can we see today?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this was a very difficult winter storm to forecast. We knew some areas would see enhanced snowfall. Washington, D.C., at Dulles, they saw a record snowfall, daily record of just over 3 inches, but you go much further to the east and it was just a trace in some cases.

Well, here's our storm system. It's off the coast now, but there's going to be a little enhancement. That comes down from the Midwest and will actually enhance the wind and enhance the snow. Those winds are gusting in Boston up close to 40 miles an hour.

As Jennifer said, we're expecting high tide very shortly. There's an afternoon high tide. With this area of low pressure just kind of sluggishly moving offshore, wind-driven waves will produce tides that are about 3 to 5 feet above normal, so there is an above normal high tide that we're expecting.

This goes through Friday. This is not just another one-day event. This looks like it's going to be for the next 24 to 36 hours. Coastal flood warnings all the way from New Jersey to Maine -- Zoraida, John.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Karen Maginnis, thank you very much.

So just when you thought the Dow couldn't go higher, it actually did, just 24 hours after hitting an all-time high, the Dow Jones Industrial average did it again. I'm confusing the Dow and the how. So it picked up 42 points to close at a record 14,296.

Get this, the Dow is up an astonishing 9 percent already this year. Happening right now, Dow futures pointing higher and that means the bulls could be running again at the opening bell.

BERMAN: So it's 13 minutes after the hour right now. Coming up, President Obama's dinner date with Republican senators. He picked up the tab, but was compromise on the menu?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

President Obama breaking bread with Republicans, but will it help break the partisan gridlock in taxes and spending cuts? That's the key question. The president took a group of key Republican senators to dinner last night in the nation's capital, a swanky restaurant, signaling a new strategy of personal outreach during this time of forced spending cuts.

CNN's Dan Lothian is live in Washington with more on the dining and the dealing and maybe -- the nice tone, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There is this sense of optimism coming out of that dinner meeting. The president, according to the White House, enjoyed the dinner, said that there was a good exchange of ideas. They touched on a number of issues, such as the debt, the deficit, dealing with entitlement reforms, also tax reforms.

We're told by some of the senators who attended that dinner that the tone was, in their words, very real and that while everyone was respectful, nobody was holding back punches.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): It was a dinner date with Republicans and President Obama picked up a tab, blocks from the White House at the swanky Jefferson Hotel, food and fiscal challenges, in an effort to find compromise less than a week after across-the-board cuts kicked in.

REPORTER: How did the meeting go?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Just fine.

LOTHIAN: Twelve Republican senators invited by the president broke bread for more than two hours.

REPORTER: What was the tone of the room like?

SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: Very positive, encouraging, candid, focused on how do we come together?

Compromise is necessary and it's possible, the issue is, how do we get there?

LOTHIAN: President Obama has stepped up his outreach to Republicans in recent days. A series of phone calls, this dinner and planned trips to Capitol Hill next week, engaging in a way his critics say he failed to do in his first term.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ultimately, the way we're going to get stuff done, personal relationships are important, and, obviously, I can always do a better job.

LOTHIAN: The dinner didn't result in any major agreements, but it was viewed as a positive step in the right direction.

HOEVEN: That's why these kinds of dialogues are so important and there needs to be more of them. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: So again, they see this dinner as a good foundation for further discussions, but none of these senators is naive. There's still some big challenges out there. As one of the senators pointed out, that it's still unclear how we get from here to there.

One thing we do know is that President Obama heads up to Capitol Hill next week to meet separately with Senate and House Republicans. There's clearly a shift here as the president tries to reach out in a more significant way -- John.

BERMAN: That's right. They had steak, sea bass, seemed to be successful. Maybe he'll bring that to Capitol Hill next week when he heads up there.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

BERMAN: Dan Lothian, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour.

To buy or not to buy? That's a big question with the stock market reaching these new heights. We're back with some practical advice for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Good morning to you. We're minding your business this morning.

The stock market looking for more gains. We all are.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

So, Christine Romans is here.

And, Christine, what does this really mean?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it means that if you've got a stock investment, if you've got a 401(k) and stocks in it, you're doing better. I mean, the S&P 500 is up 8 percent just this year. The stocks portion of your 401(k) retirement probably most reflects the S&P 500.

Look, everyone is saying what the case to keep buying stocks. Here's the case to buy stocks, right? The Fed is still pumping money into the system.

You've heard me say this, TINA investing, "There Is No Alternative". A lot of investment gurus are saying you've got to ride the stock market wave while it's here. We have corporate profits. We have $1.7 trillion in cash.

Companies are making money. They have money in the bank. They're not necessarily hiring, but they're making money, there's money in the bank and stocks are still considered a fair value. When you look at what we call price-to-earnings ratios, they don't look overly expensive when you look at a lot of these different gauges.

So, what's the case against buying stocks here, because there are hedge fund managers who are saying this thing is ripe to start falling and they're actually making bets against it. You've got Europe's recession. You've got debt theatrics in Washington. Something goes poorly there, you could start sending interest rates up in this country, and would make stocks a less attractive investment.

You've got a strapped American consumer. How much longer can corporate profits doing so well, but you're not having good job growth. And you could have just good old-fashioned profit taking. People who look at how far you've come over the past year, 14 percent for the S&P 500.

They say you know what? I think stocks could still go up. I don't know when they're going to turn around, but I'm going to take some of my money off the table and that could be one reason why you see a decline in the stock market. I mean, that's a pretty fairly balanced, do you buy, do you not buy here?

And, you know, we just don't know. If I knew what would happen next in stocks, I would be on some awesome island in the South Pacific.

BERMAN: But we're glad you're not. We're glad you're here with us to tell us what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: So, the only thing you can do is rebalance. You've got to make sure that you rebalance. I suggest and write that you rebalance your portfolio every quarter.

What does that mean? That means you make sure you have the right percentage of stocks, bonds, cash and alternative investments. Stocks have gone up for so long, maybe you have too much stock part in your portfolio, you need to trim that down a little bit and buy some of the other things at lower prices to balance it out, rebalance. Do it every quarter I say.

If you rebalance less than you go to the dentist, you're in trouble.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you.

ROMANS: Do you go to the dentist?

BERMAN: I'm trying to think about that. No, I haven't been in a long time.

ROMANS: Do you rebalance more than you go to the dentist?

BERMAN: I don't really -- I'm going to do both, I promise. Starting now, I'm going to do both.

SAMBOLIN: He's not going to the dentist, read between the lines. There lies the problem.

BERMAN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You have very nice teeth.

BERMAN: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Twenty-six minutes after the hour.

And back to business, Mitt Romney has accepted a new job. We will have the details on this new gig coming up next.

SAMBOLIN: Did you see his mind, working, working. It's like, oh, dentist, money, dentist, money --

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