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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Osama Bin Laden's Son-In-Law Captured; Dow's Record Run; "Fearless: Intern Killed By Lion; Hugo Chavez's Funeral Today; North Korea Sanctions; Happy With The Results; Clinton Urges Overturn Of DOMA; Another Space Rock Fly By; Native Americans Challenge NFL's Redskins; A Gun in Every Household; Wealth Nears Pre-Recession Levels

Aired March 8, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is this making you a little bit nervous?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a big, resounding yes.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Friday, March 8th, 6:00 a.m. in the east.

Up first here, it is a major development in the war on terror. The son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden captured and is now in U.S. custody. In just ours, Solomon Abu Ghaith is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom right here in New York City to be arraigned on charges he conspired to kill Americans.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is live from the federal courthouse in Manhattan. Susan, this arrest is sending shock waves from the nation's capitol all the way to the Middle East.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is. Imagine all these years, Abu Ghaith managed to stay beyond the reach of U.S. authorities, but that has finally ended. There are a lot of questions just like the snow swirling around. How the U.S. got their hands on him and some are even challenging, how and where he should be prosecuted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): This photo puts Abu Ghaith squarely in al Qaeda's inner circle. He is sitting to the left of his father-in-law, Osama Bin Laden, along with top lieutenants Al Zawahiri and Muhammed Atef. Following the 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith was out front as a spokesman for the terror association appearing in videos and making ominous statements.

Quote, "We have the right to kill four million Americans with chemical and biological weapons." Abu Ghaith is also believed to have been at Osama Bin Laden's final stand in December 2001 before escaping into Pakistan. He had lived in Iran since 2002, mostly under house arrest and is said to have arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara early last month traveling on a forged Saudi passport. He checked into a luxury hotel and was detained.

Iran refused to take him back according to Turkish sources. After several weeks in limbo, Turkey decided to deport Abu Ghaith to the country of his birth, Kuwait. But Kuwait didn't want him back either.

Eventually Abu Ghaith was transferred to U.S. custody and secretly flown to New York to face trial. Some Republicans argue that makes him an enemy combatant who should be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We are putting the administration on notice. We think that sneaking this guy into the country clearly going around the intent of Congress when it comes to enemy combatants will be challenged.

CANDIOTTI: But the Obama administration says it is trying to close Gitmo, not add to the prisoners and that trying Abu Ghaith in New York won't jeopardize national security.

PETER BERGEN, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's the sort of case it would be easy to try in New York. I mean, New York federal court has 100 percent conviction rate for people who are accused of al Qaeda crimes.

CANDIOTTI: His indictment unsealed Abu Ghaith now stands accused of one count of conspiring to kill Americans and allegedly recruiting others to do the same. In court documents, prosecutors quote him saying this after 911. The storms will not stop, especially the airplane storms, warning Americans not to board any aircraft and not to live in high rises.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Abu Ghaith has been called the mouthpiece of Bin Laden. One with FBI official compares him to a consigliore and the mob -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Susan Candiotti live from the federal courthouse, thank you.

BERMAN: It's 3 minutes after the hour. The other big story we are following this morning, it's possible that the Dow may end the week with yet another record high. Stock futures right now are pointing higher as we head to the opening bell. The anticipation is building for the February jobs report due out in just about two and a half hours. Christine Romans is here to tell us all about this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's two really big stories for your money basically when you look at the major stock market averages they have had a really good year. In fact, just over the past six or eight weeks it's been -- you would be happy if this was a year return for you. I mean, take a look at the Dow Jones Industrial average. It is up huge. This is year to date. You can see here -- I can't read down there. Anyway, it's had a nice run.

SAMBOLIN: I can't help you either. I'm trying.

ROMANS: You can go to CNN Money and you can take a look at it yourself if you like to see what it is. The Dow is 30 big blue chip stocks. The S&P 500 is more representative of probably what's in your 401(k). That's about 1.5 percent away from a record high.

The jobs report today will likely decide whether you see a high again in stocks for today. This is what we are expecting from the jobs report in about two and a half hours. In February, 170,000 jobs created and an unemployment rate ticking down to 7.8 percent.

A lot of discussion about how you're going to have record highs in stocks and still have such a high unemployment rate, part of the reason is because companies are giving back money in dividends, in share buybacks. The stock market is doing well.

The job market recovery has been much slower. There is a bit of disconnect between them. I will have a lot more on all that later in the hour. As we get closer to the 8:30 number, I will be looking to see if there are signs of forced spending cuts already in those jobs, especially government jobs.

We'll see if that already has begun to factor into those numbers. There was also a snowstorm last month. So I promise you in two and a half hours it could be an interesting number for us to digest.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you. Stay with us all morning. There will be breaking economic news all morning. Christine will cover all of it.

SAMBOLIN: It's 5 minutes past the hour. Happening now the storm that just will not go away. The northeast feeling the effects from this powerful and persistent storm, it's been lingering on the east coast for past two days.

Now it's ruining commutes all over New England. At least eight states are under winter weather conditions or warning for this hour bracing for really strong winds, rain and we are particularly worried about that coastal flooding and of course, snow, lots of it is on the way.

New York and Long Island could see 3 inches to 5 inches today while in Boston you could get up to a foot of snow. The heaviest snow will fall in parts of New Hampshire, Eastern Massachusetts, Connecticut and much of Rhode Island will also see really heavy snowfall.

BERMAN: It is just plain gross out there.

SAMBOLIN: It is. Sorry.

BERMAN: That's a meteorology term this morning. New details this morning about the young female intern who was killed by a lion at a California animal sanctuary. According to the coroner, 24-year-old Diana Hanson died quickly on Wednesday from a broken neck.

There was no blood drawn when the 350-pound African lion who killed her apparently escaped from the cage and attacked her in a larger enclosure. Hanson had been working at the Cat Haven Sanctuary for just two months.

Her father said she was never happier. He told Anderson Cooper, her love for big cats always made him nervous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HANSON SR., DAUGHTER KILLED BY LION: That always got me, her in the cage. It always scared me. I always had a bad premonition someday those animals could turn on her. She was absolutely fearless. No more afraid of the lions and tigers than she was of a house cat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Paul Hanson said his daughter died doing what she loved most and that's helping him deal with the terrible loss.

SAMBOLIN: He has such strength.

All right, the funeral for late Venezuelan Hugo Chavez appears -- is in a few hours in Caracas. Fifty four international delegations and at least 22 heads of state will attend the funeral among those, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Cuban President Raul Castro.

Already 2 million Venezuelans have traveled to see that late leader's body. Chavez died at the age of 58 on Tuesday, following a long battle with cancer. Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Marudo will be sworn in as interim president. That's happening tonight.

Maduro also announcing that the body of Chavez will lie in state for seven days before it is embalmed and placed in a glass case forever. The special tomb is now under construction in a museum in Caracas, which will be dedicated to what they call the populist revolution of Hugo Chavez.

BERMAN: North Korea now facing tough new United Nations sanctions designed to make it difficult to funnel cash into its nuclear weapons program. The Security Council passed the measure in a unanimous vote yesterday.

China could have used its power to veto, to block the plan, but voted in favor of the sanctions. The vote came hours after Pyongyang threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against its enemies including the United States.

SAMBOLIN: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is declaring victory following his marathon 13-hour filibuster Wednesday, which delayed a vote on John Brennan's nomination for CIA director. Brennan was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in a 63-34 vote. But in a letter to Paul yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed President Obama doesn't have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil. Here's what Paul had to say about it to CNN's Erin Burnett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the response was important. You don't always get a response from the White House when you make an argument. We have been asking for six weeks from the response. The fact that we got it, I feel like it's a victory for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Former PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON is calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the defense of marriage act, which is a law that he actually signed as president. In a "Washington Post" op-ed, he writes, "The justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality, and justice above all and is therefore constitutional.

As the president who signed the act into law I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our constitution." You know, this is coming as a recent CBS News poll shows the majority of Americans, some 54 percent, think same-sex marriage should be legal, 39 percent oppose it. The high court will hear arguments on DOMA in three weeks.

SAMBOLIN: Another close encounter of the rocky kind. Scientists say another asteroid, this one the size of a football field will whiz past earth this weekend. It's happening just days after a different, much smaller rock made an even closer fly-by.

The new asteroid is 350 feet wide and will miss earth by 600,000 miles when it zips by on Saturday. So it's roughly the size of this meteor, which exploded last month over Russia. The fireball detonated before astronomers knew it existed. More than 1,500 people were injured, mostly by flying glass.

BERMAN: A group of five Native Americans fighting in court claiming that the NFL's Washington Redskins should not be allowed to trademark their team name. They claim "Redskins" is an offensive term and they must prove it disparaged a number of Native Americans when the team was granted the trademark starting in 1967.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZAN SHOWN HARJO, PRESIDENT, MORNINGSTAR INSTITUTE: It comes from a time when bounties were issued against us and our people were with skinned. That's the history that we want to just bury at long last. This revives it. This keeps it going and makes it possible for all sorts of other racial slurs to be used against us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: An attorney for the NFL team said it would suffer serious financial harm if it no longer had the exclusive marketing rights to the name "Redskins." No word on when the trial board will make a ruling.

SAMBOLIN: A requirement to bear arms. A town that says every household needs to own a gun. We have a live report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. So while the Obama administration fights an uphill battle to tighten the nation's gun control laws, a small Georgia community is taking a completely opposite approach.

Council members in Nelson, Georgia -- population 1,300, they are passing a preliminary measure that would require the head of every single household in the city to own a gun and the ammunition to go with it.

Shannon Travis is tracking the latest developments in this story. And he joins us now live from Washington.

Good morning, Shannon.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John.

Yes. Nelson, Georgia, is about 50 miles outside of Atlanta. This potential law, an ordinance proposal right now, it's called the Family Protection Act, we actually went and looked it up. The purpose of it, officials say, is to better protect those 1,300 people in the city. There are a few exemptions if the law is passed.

If you are a gun felon, probably a good idea, you would be exempt from owning, being required to own a gun. If you are a pauper -- that's a word in the proposal -- meaning you are very poor. Mental and physical disability, and also anyone opposed to actually owning a gun for religious reasons, or they just don't want one, or what-have-you, excuse me, if there -- excuse me -- if there are exemptions to the law and if it is passed it won't actually be enforced then why do it at all, John? Well, the people say it is to send a message to Washington about this effort, the push to tighten the nation's gun control laws.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDITH PORTILLO, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Our government, at the moment, they want to take as much away from us as they can.

BILL MCNIFF, CANTON TEA PARTY CHAIRMAN: We want to take this countywide and statewide to other counties and states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Now, John, with all of the attention on Nelson, you can imagine that residents are reacting for and against this idea. Take a listen at that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most everybody that lives here that are original residents here have always had firearms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the point? By their own admission, this is a sham ordinance. It's just for play.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Hey, John, Kennesaw, Georgia, is about 30 miles away from Nelson, they have a similar ordinance and they say that it's helped keep crime down -- John.

BERMAN: Well, you know, we're talking about it. So, Nelson is getting the attention they seem to desperately want.

Shannon Travis, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine with our top story.

ROMANS: Good morning again you, too.

A major development in the war on terror this morning. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law in U.S. custody. He's just hours from appearing in federal court in New York. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith scheduled to be in court for the first time at 10:00 Eastern, on charges he conspired to kill Americans. The former al Qaeda spokesman was captured in Jordan last week, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Forty-four-year-old Julio Acevedo now facing 15 years to life, is convicted of a fatal hit and run crash in New York City. He surrendered to police in Pennsylvania earlier this week. He was brought back to New York. He's accused of fleeing the scene of a crime -- a crash that left a pregnant woman and her husband dead. Their baby -- their baby boy was delivered after the crash, but sadly died some 30 hours later.

We'll find out today if the Dow can keep up the hot streak. Stocks hit yet another record, closing at a new high of 14,329. That's what trading ended. The S&P inching closer to its own all-time high, just 2 percent away.

The winter storm that won't go away right now bringing gusty winds, pounding surf and beach erosion to the Northeast. It's also expected to drop three to five inches of snow on New York City, up to a foot on Boston.

These eight states on the screen have severe weather warnings in effect right now. I think you can only read that if you live in those states. You know exactly where you are. You know exactly where you are.

SAMBOLIN: Squint. ROMANS: All right. Furniture giant Ikea now pulling hot dogs from its stores in Russia after tests revealed -- uh-huh -- they contained horsemeat.

BERMAN: So, now, first, meatballs, now, the hot dogs.

ROMANS: Hot dogs. That's right. Ikea says it's now testing meat products sold in all of its markets. Ten days ago, Ikea suspended sales of its famous Swedish meatballs after testing in Czech Republic revealed traces of horse DNA in the product. That's right.

Former Vice President Al Gore facing a $500 million lawsuit over the sale of Current TV to al Jazeera. Media consultant John Terenzio said he came up with the plan to distribute an American version of al Jazeera. Terenzio said, hey, Gore first opposed the idea and had a change of heart and went ahead with the $50 million sale. Terenzio says he'd like to be compensated for his role.

Starbucks isn't at all jittery about next week's ban on large sugary drinks in New York City. According to Yahoo News, the coffee giant says it won't immediately comply with the ban for two reasons. They are legally trying to overturn the regulation and Starbucks claims most of the products aren't even subject to the ban. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted the ban of sugared drinks above 18 ounces to fight obesity. It takes effect on Tuesday.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. So, America's wealth rebounding? We have some new numbers that show good signs -- good signs -- this morning. That's a reason to stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. We are minding your biz this morning. We're minding your business morning.

ROMANS: You can mind my biz if you want.

BERMAN: We're minding your biz.

And Christine Romans is doing that in other things.

ROMANS: There is so much going on for money right now. We're talking about stocks, the Dow, the S&P, the NASDAQ on a great roll for the year. You would take this return for a whole year.

Instead you have had it just for this part -- look, you could have another record today. It depends on what happens with the jobs report. We're expecting the jobs report to show 170,000 jobs created and maybe 7.8 percent unemployment. That's what we're expecting there.

But one of the things people are talking about is this disconnect, right? So, you are seeing all of the signs that wealth is coming back.

The stock market is on a roll. Look, household net worth has come back. Government figures show you are almost back to where you were in 2007. I mean, that's impressive. The blue bunch of bars there is the recession and slowly climbing back.

Most Americans, though, especially looking for a job, hey, wait, my household net worth has not come back and my job prospects haven't come back.

And one of the things we're looking is how productivity has been so good for American companies, but it hasn't resulted in higher wages for American workers. When you look at the gap that shows how American workers have been getting squeezed this is a post-war chart. The top line is productivity.

That means that companies are getting more out of you. That bottom line is your wages. And look at the past 15, 20 years for wages -- sideways.

So, we are with talking about records in wealth creation. We're talking about these records in the stock market. But it's totally justified that so many workers are saying they're not feeling it. I'm going to really dig into that report today when the jobs report to see whether the sequester, forced spending cuts, what are the kinds of things that are at play there, whether we are seeing some underlying strength finally in the jobs market.

BERMAN: That was a long flat line. What is the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: Well, this is some place where you are seeing some results here. Mortgage rates are staying very low. Freddie Mac says a 30- year fixed rate mortgage is now 3.52 percent. That's just up a bit from last week. That's an average.

So, some people with good credit pay get lower rates. If your credit isn't that good, you're getting a little bit of a higher rate. That's still very low.

So, what I'm telling you you're not feeling it, if you are a homeowner or you are going out to buy a home, or you're an investor in housing, you are feeling it. There is wealth creation there for sure.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

The Biebs is in the hospital. The picture he posted after fainting during his concert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: A major break in the war on terror. Osama bin Laden's son- in-law captured, heading to court in a few hours right here in New York City. And that is controversial.

SAMBOLIN: The record Wall Street rally continues, but will we get good news on jobs? The key monthly jobs report just two hours away now.

BERMAN: Sloshing your way to work. A windy, rainy, snowy, slushy, gross, icky, disgusting mess hanging over the Northeast right now -- the winter storm that will never ever go away.