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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Osama bin Laden's Son-in-Law Captured; Northeast Braces for Winter Storm; Earth Getting Warmer

Aired March 8, 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: A windy, rainy, snowy, slushy, gross, icky, disgusting mess hanging over the Northeast right now -- the winter storm that will never, ever go away.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is incredible. Accidentally finding a fortune in a pile of junk -- art found in a new homeowner's garage worth $30 million. I think he paid $300,000 for the house.

BERMAN: That's a good return on investment.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable, we are going to bring you the story.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It's Friday, March 8th. It is 30 minutes after the hour now.

And there is some big news on the war on terror. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law in U.S. custody, due in federal court in just a few hours. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith charged with conspiring to kill Americans. He could be sentenced to life in prison.

Now, this has been some journey for the former al Qaeda spokesman. In the past month, Abu Ghaith went from house arrest in Iran to Ankara in Turkey, where he was arrested and ultimately released. Turkey decided to send him back to his native Kuwait through Jordan. That's where the CIA nabbed him. So, we want to bring CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti live from the federal courthouse in Manhattan.

This is quite a story, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, John. And, of course, Abu Ghaith, in the meantime, has been cooling his heels in a federal detention center here New York before that court hearing that's taking place at 10:00 Eastern Time today in that courthouse that you see over my shoulder.

All this among a lot of questions, there's been a lot of questions about the involvement the CIA and FBI had in getting him from Turkey to Jordan and on to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CANDIOTTI (voice-over): This photo put Sulaiman 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 Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith was out front as a spokesman for the terror organization, appearing in videos and making ominous statements.

Quote, "We have the right to kill 4 million Americans with chemical and biological weapons."

Abu Ghaith is also believed to have been in Osama bin Laden's final stand at Tora Bora 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 Ankara, early last month, traveling on a forged Saudi passport. He checked into a luxury hotel and was detain.

Iran refused to take him back, according to Turkish sources. After several weeks in limbo, Turkey decided to deport 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.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're 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's trying to close Gitmo, not add to its prisoners, and that trying Abu Ghaith in New York won't jeopardize national security.

PETER BERGEN, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a sort of case that would be relatively easy to try in New York. I mean, New York federal court has a 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 9/11: 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: Over the years, Abu Ghaith hasn't been shy about blasting the United States on many, many occasions. It will be interesting, John, to see in court whether he has anything to say at his arraignment. Back to you.

BERMAN: That will be interesting to very watch. Susan Candiotti, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-four minutes past the hour.

Also developing this morning, two big business stories to keep an eye on. The question on Wall Street: will we see another record high for the Dow today? It closed at a new high, 14,329 when trading ended yesterday. The S&P 500 is closing in on its own all-time high, just 2 percent away.

And we are also awaiting a big report from the Labor Department. In two hours, it issues a first jobs report since those deep across-the- board federal spending cuts began.

A CNN Money survey predicts 170,000 jobs gain, and for the unemployment rate to dip to slightly to 7.8 percent. We're going to bring you the numbers live at 8:30 Eastern, along with instant reaction as well.

BERMAN: Also happening right now, take a look at the window. It's just awful this morning over a huge part of the country. The Northeast is feeling the effects of a powerful and persistent storm that just will not go away. Much of New England right now bracing for strong winds, rain and coastal flooding outside our studios right now.

This is -- this is what it looks like there. It doesn't begin to tell the story because it is grosser than that looks as the combination of rain, snow, maybe some ice falling. New York and Long Island could see three to five inches of snow today. Boston could get a foot.

The heaviest snow will fall in parts of New Hampshire, along with eastern Massachusetts, Connecticut, and much of Rhode Island.

Samantha Mohr is tracking this system for us.

Samantha, this has just been here forever.

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has been around for a couple days. It is a slow mover. That gives more time for snow to accumulate here.

And you can see, this is the radar showing snow coming in, and it's coming across New York, Hartford and Boston. And especially south and west of Boston, that's where the snow has been piling up. Winter storm warnings in pink. Winter weather advisories in the purple.

But despite your color, it is windy, it is cold and it is snowy. So, you don't want to be out there in these elements if you can avoid it.

So, in Randolph, we have ended up with over 10 inches. Similar amounts coming in for Mansfield, to those are south and west of Boston proper. At the airport, we have only picked up -- this was earlier this morning, a little over two and a half inches. We expect those amounts to go up over the next few hours. It won't taper off until this evening.

So, most of the heavy snow will be to the west and south of town. That's where we expect to see that snow piling up today. And those winds up to 40 blowing snow sideways. Here is your water vapor, satellite imagery showing those bands of moisture working in.

So, more heavy snow working around the system. That means delays in Boston, New York City and we also have delays in Philly.

And then on the other coast, we have a winter storm there as well. So, we have winter weather in the mountains north of Los Angeles and possible flooding there in the basin. So, we'll be watching for that, John.

BERMAN: A lot to watch this morning. Samantha Mohr, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour.

Our other top stories for you this morning:

President Obama says he will not engage in what he calls chest-beating over Iran's nuclear program but does plan to issue a clear, direct challenge to Tehran during his upcoming Middle East trip. He made these comments at a White House meeting with Jewish-American leaders yesterday evening. The president said he will still work toward a resolution with Iran but repeated that no options, including military ones, are off the table.

BERMAN: Police in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, are asking for help as they search for 51-year-old Leanne "Annie" Meyer. Friends and family last heard from her on February 23rd. Today's later, her boss received a text sent on Meyer's phone. Police searched her home yesterday. They found no evidence of a crime scene. But Meyer and her two vehicles, a Toyota pickup truck and a Rav-4 are all missing.

SAMBOLIN: And after two days of answering questions from jurors, there are signs a jury isn't buying Jodi Arias' story that she murdered her boyfriend in self-defense. That's actually her third version of events the night Travis Alexander was shot, stabbed 27 times and had his throat slashed. Jurors wanted to know about Jodi Arias' memory lapse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE: How can you say that you don't have memory issues when you can't remember how you stabbed him so many times and slashed his throat?

JODI ARIAS, MURDER DEFENDANT: Well, I think that I have a good memory. And June 4th is an anomaly for me. I don't think I have memory issues that are any different from another, average person. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Testimony in the Jodi Arias trial will resume on Wednesday.

BERMAN: So it was like "Jaws" times a thousand, but now over apparently. Several Florida beaches are open after thousands of sharks prompted life guards --

SAMBOLIN: Would you get in?

BERMAN: Absolutely not.

The schools of sharks are migrating up the coast as the water with warms for the summer. This happens I guess every year.

Look at that.

SAMBOLIN: I know.

BERMAN: Thousands of sharks.

OK. The beaches are open.

SAMBOLIN: What if one or two are left over? I don't know. I don't know. I would not go in the water.

BERMAN: Good day to build a sandcastle.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Don't forget this weekend, Daylight Savings Time official arrives at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. So, make sure to spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep.

BERMAN: But your days will be longer next week. That's good.

All right. Taking a look at the top CNN trends online this morning.

Justin Bieber is recovering after a fainting mid-show in London last night. The 19-year-old had to take a 20-minute break. He was reportedly treated with oxygen before finishing the concert and he posted this picture later from the hospital -- a hospital with no shirts apparently.

He tweeted, "Getting better. Thanks for pulling me through tonight."

SAMBOLIN: That's a hospital gown it looks, you know, maybe pulled down.

BERMAN: It doesn't cover your shoulders, no matter how hard you try.

Anyway, he thanks the fans. They are trying to figure out what happened last night to cause him to faint.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Actress Demi Moore wants her ex-Ashton Kutcher to show her the money according to divorce documents which were filed in a Los Angeles court yesterday. Fifty-year-old Moore wants Kutcher paying spousal support and attorney fees. Her court filing did not specify an amount, but it could be a lot.

Thirty-five-year-old Kutcher last year reportedly earned $24 million from the CBS hit, "Two and A Half Men."

BERMAN: All right. Score a big one. Art work by an obscure painter that was found inside a garage in Long Island is worth $30 million. Wow.

Homeowner Thomas Schultz bought the former home of late artist Arthur Pinajian in 2006. Pinajian's family hadn't cleaned out the garage and asked Schultz and his partner to throw 60 years worth of paintings away. But they did not throw the pieces out. It turns out to be a very good thing. Some other pieces have sold for a half million dollars as well.

SAMBOLIN: Can you imagine that?

BERMAN: Never throw it out.

SAMBOLIN: No! Always have it appraised.

All right. Bill Gates responds to Marissa Mayer's idea to ban working from home. That CNN interview coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning.

Well, he signed it. Now, he says to get rid of it. The former President Bill Clinton trying to undo something he did while he was in the White House. We'll tell you why he says the Defense of Marriage Act has to go.

And a mother is shocked to discover that her 7-year-old daughter has created this diet list.

SAMBOLIN: I'd be shocked, too.

O'BRIEN: Yes, me, too.

We're going to talk this morning to another mother who actually put her 7-year-old on a diet and talk about the societal pressure on young girls to be thin.

Plus, from "In Living Color" to now the animated cable hit "Black Dynamite", comedian Tommy Davidson will join us live to talk about his show.

It's all ahead.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: You bet. BERMAN: So, in just over three hours, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law is scheduled to be in federal court right here in New York City. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith faces charges of conspiring to kill Americans. Now, he could get life in prison. The former al Qaeda spokesman and wife of bin Laden's daughter Fatima was captured by the CIA in Jordan last week.

SAMBOLIN: The funeral for late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, happens in a few hours in the capital city of Caracas, and already, an estimated two million Venezuelans have traveled to see the late leader's body. Chavez died at the age of 58 on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer. Venezuelan vice president, Nicolas Maduro, will be sworn in as interim president. That happens later tonight.

BERMAN: The fate of a New York cop accused in a plot to cannibalize women is now in the hands of a jury. Jurors have to decide if e-mail exchanges Gilberto Valle had with alleged co-conspirators were real or part of role play fantasies. Actually, a really interesting legal case. He allegedly planned to kidnap, torture, rape, cook, and eat women.

None of his alleged targets were victimized. Valle faces life in prison if convicted of conspiracy.

SAMBOLIN: Kelly Osbourne is recovering this morning at a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a seizure. The 28-year-old Osbourne fainted on the set of her E-show "Fashion Police" and was rushed to the hospital. The spokesman says she was awake and alert after the seizure which reportedly lasted 30 seconds.

BERMAN: So, new research says that the Earth continues to get even hotter. Scientists behind the study published in the "Journal Science" say climate change is to blame for the Earth going from its coldest decade in the history of human civilization to its hottest, all within the same century.

The study looked at 11,000 years of temperatures, a similar heat spike has never happened, they say, in that time.

SAMBOLIN: L.A., 2024, Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has notified the U.S. Olympic committee that his city is interested in bidding for the 2024 summer games. L.A. has twice hosted the Olympics, in 1932 and 1984. The U.S. didn't even apply for the 2020 games after a Chicago lost its bid for the 2016 Olympics which were awarded to Rio.

BERMAN (on-camera): So, Facebook gets a facelift. Will this be like the disastrous launch of timeline all over again? We're going to tell you about the new features, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, Tiger Woods, part of the leading group at Doral while his heir apparent, Rory McIlroy continues to struggle.

SAMBOLIN: Joe Carter has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. Yes. Their golf games are certainly headed in two different directions. We had a dream pairing yesterday. Doral, the top three players in the world were all grouped together, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, one, two, three.

Tiger, though, the only one who played up to his ranking, he carded nine birdies yesterday, and four came from putts longer than 15 feet. So, he earned it. He certainly played one of his best rounds of the year, shooting a 66. He starts today in a five-way tie for first. Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, coming up a tumultuous week after quitting mid-round at the Honda and continues to struggle. He missed fairways, he missed putts. He's tied for 50th nowhere near the leaders.

Well, the greatest closer in baseball is calling it a career after this season. Mariano Rivera is the man Yankees had called upon since 1995 to get the final three outs in a game. He had 608 saves, most all time. His playoff saves helped the Yankees win five World Series titles. When you think greatest relief pitcher in baseball, you think Mariano Rivera.

Driver, Denny Hamlin, says he's not paying the $25,000 fine handed by -- handed down by NASCAR for criticizing the new generation six car. He believes his comment about it not racing as well as the gen (ph) five model has been blown way out of proportion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNY HAMLIN, FINED $25K FOR SPEAKING AGAINST NEW CARS: This is the most upset and angry I've been in a really long time. I don't believe in this. I'm never going to believe in it. And -- so, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me. I don't care at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, was on Jimmy Kimmel last night. A few days after Dennis rodman's visit to North Korea, Kimmel Asked Kobe if he'd take that trip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST: Would you go over there and focus on stopping this potential nuclear warhead -- that seems more important than the game.

KOBE BRYANT, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Yes, but I'd probably pass.

KIMMEL: You would pass on that one?

BRYANT: I'd probably pass.

KIMMEL: Oh, for once, you're passing. (LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: Betty White met her biggest fan. No, really, she did meet her biggest fan. He's 6'10" NBA player Ekpe Udoh. And this guy put together an epic Twitter campaign just so he could meet everybody's favorite golden girl. BleacherReport.com has lot more in his dream coming true. He says he's watched her on "Golden Girls" since he was a boy with his mother. Huge fun of Betty White.

BERMAN: That makes complete sense.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Really?

BERMAN: Joe Carter, our thanks to you.

CARTER: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Bill Gates says he doesn't have a big problem with letting employees work from home, at least, to a point. The Microsoft founder says he understands why firms like Yahoo! and Best Buy have suspended their work from home policies but insists there's no need for extremes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT FOUNDER: A lot of jobs require face-to-face collaboration. But, you know, if you've got development centers all over the world, you got a sales force that's out with the customers, the fact that, you know, tools like Skype and digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance. You know, that is a wonderful thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, over the next few weeks, your Facebook newsfeed will get another facelift. Facebook said this is supposed to reduce clutter and focus more on stories from people you care about. In addition to newsfeed, Facebook will also introduce several new feeds, one for all friends which shows you everything they're sharing, one for photos, one for music, and one called following which has news from pages you like and people you're following. The changes --

SAMBOLIN: So confusing.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I got to see it.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: You know, it's going to happen, and you're going to have to live with it. That's all you need to know. (LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Fifty-four minutes after the hour. The force back together in full, apparently. The entire gang of Han, Leia, and Luke, could they be part of the new "Star Wars"? We will have details.

SAMBOLIN: Some people are not happy about this.

BERMAN: We'll tell you all about it, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, we do have news from a galaxy far, far away. There is a disturbance in the force.

SAMBOLIN: I want you to look at this picture first, though. This is New York City. Is this not absolutely soupy and disgusting? This is what it looks like in New York City this morning. You got some pretty inclement weather out there, but we're still going to say good morning to you. It is rainy, sloshy, snowy, icky.

BERMAN: It is just plain gross out there. It is just plain gross.

Now, the news you have all been waiting for.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we're going to a galaxy far, far away.

BERMAN: Exactly. There is a disturbance in the force. Han, Leia, and Luke, Harrison Ford, Carry Fisher, and Mark Hamill, they are all in talks to be part of the new "Star Wars" films that were announced after Disney purchased Lucas film, from George Lucas.

Lucas, basically, let the secret slipped, confirming this in an interview with Bloomberg Business (ph). He did try to backtrack, but, it's out there now. So, "Star Wars" fans, you have to digest the fact that all these actors could be back for part of this new film.

SAMBOLIN: Which is a problem for some folks, right? You know, which is --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I would never -- I never say that. You know I never say that to anybody.

SAMBOLIN: You're right. You're right.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now. O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law caught and brought to New York under a shroud of secrecy. Controversy now surrounds what supposed to happen next?

Plus, some more details on how that lion killed a young woman. It turns out that wild animal wasn't where it belonged.

Also, former President Clinton urging the Supreme Court to overturn a law that he, himself, signed when he was in the White House.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Holy Dow! Wall Street out of the door. We're counting down to a key report about jobs now less than two hours away.

BERMAN: So, forget the right to bear arms. One small town in America is about to make it mandatory, a gun for every house and every family.

Plus, a first look at Hollywood's risky bet on a brand new "Wizard Of Oz." Is the Yellow Brick Road paved with box office gold?

O'BRIEN: Lots to talk about this morning. The mom who found her seven-year-old daughter's diet list. Did you hear about this? We'll chat with Dara-Lynn Weiss. You remember, she's a woman we had on the show talking about her own daughter's struggle with obesity.

The actor and comedian, Tommy Davidson, is going to joins us. And actress, Abbie Cornish, will be with us a little bit later this morning.

It's Friday, March 8th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, a developing story we're watching for you. In just a few hours, Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law will be appearing in a New York City courtroom.