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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Wintry Mess in the Spring; American-Run Prison Handed Over to Afghans; Kerry Meets with Iraqi President; Supreme Court Seats; EU Agrees to Cyprus Bailout; Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in NJ; Florida Gulf Coast Makes NCAA History; Knox Appeal; Relief at the Gas Pump

Aired March 25, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Poppy Harlow. I'm in for Zoraida who's off today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, March 25th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. And we are going to begin with that collective grown across half a dozen states as people clean up from rain, snow, and in some places, hail. And the mess, it is not over yet. From Missouri to Pennsylvania, millions of people are dealing with this slushy, awful mix.

It was dangerous in Indianapolis yesterday as cars collided on slick, icy roads. You have to look at this scene in Kansas City, Missouri. It's spring! The storm is causing significant disruptions at Lambert St. Louis International Airport as well and parts of eastern Indiana and Western Ohio are under winter storm warning through early this afternoon.

And the system is continuing to track eastward. We have it covered for you. Susan Candiotti is in Dayton, Ohio. See the snow behind her. Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. Let's start with the snow and Susan. Good morning.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, you can see that it's still lightly coming down. It started just after the sun went down last night. And it's been snowing steadily ever since. In this region, in the Dayton area, here's what I would estimate. OK. I got a chalk board here sort of. Anywhere from five to maybe eight inches of snow.

And the winter storm warning is still in effect here until two o'clock this afternoon at the very least. Roads are treacherous in many spots here, and it has been a wild weather weekend from the Colorados to the southeast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Icy roads, slippery going near St. Louis as a pickup truck slides down a street. Just about everyone is tired of winter weather in spring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's crazy. I'm just sick of all the snow. Like I was so ready for it back at Christmas, but now I'm over it. CANDIOTTI: Plows were tripling up in some parts of Missouri as relentless snow blanketed highways. At Lambert St. Louis International Airport, nasty weather forcing cancellations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, it could be a long day sitting around waiting. One flight has been rerouted.

CANDIOTTI: The severe weather sweeping in to the south. High winds uprooting trees in Central Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't believe the tree fell on the car. It could have got a lot worse than I did.

CANDIOTTI: Violent thunderstorms temporarily washing out Tiger Woods' shot at a number one ranking after two holes. At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, broken tree limbs and flooded fairways postponing the tournament.

At Orlando International Airport, a wind gust clocked at 86 miles an hour. A jet swept against a hangar. In Kansas City, about eight inches of snow forced churches to call off services.

Coloradans were among the first to feel the storm's fury, whiteout conditions, 150 mile stretch of interstate shut down, even a major pileup on I-25 at left a tractor trailer in flames.

By late Sunday in Indiana and Ohio, skies opened up, dropping freezing rain and snow. Making people wonder, where is spring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes, it comes. This is Ohio. We get snow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody says, yes, spring is around the corner.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: He's pretty cute, isn't he? But there's nothing cute with the cleanup that's going to be involved in this. Checking out the roads in this section they're not too bad.

The snow plows have been out all night. The salt trucks, too. But in many areas of the Dayton region, there is still a lot of wet, sticky snow out there. The temperatures still below freezing so there could be some black ice out there, as well. John, not over yet here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Not over. All right, Susan Candiotti in snowy Dayton, Ohio, thanks.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And parts of Kentucky and Tennessee people have been dealing with hail and very strong winds.

BERMAN: That's crazy.

HARLOW: Yuck. I-Reporters sending us that video from their front porches, from their apartment windows so big question, when are we going to get a break from all of this extreme weather?

We talk about it every single day. Jennifer Delgado joining us from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. What's ahead? Getting better? Getting worse?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, we're going to go through a period this morning and this afternoon of more snow out there. But long-term it looks like we're going to see snow chances going away. Now we start off with the snow out there.

It's coming down, as I said, from Illinois all the way down towards areas including Tennessee and spreading over towards Pennsylvania, even Washington, D.C. getting into the snow. In fact, let's take a live look this morning of the capitol dome, the dome getting some snow out there.

And it is looking really good out there. The heavy snow is going to be coming down in the morning hours. So that's a look at D.C. as I take you back over to our radar and show you a bit more of what's happening across the Mid-Atlantic, look at the snow coming down to areas, Maryland, as well as into northern parts of Virginia.

Driving along Interstate 95, we are going to be looking at some tricky travel delays out there, especially as we get more of that rain and potential for a little bit of sleet working in there. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh you're going to be looking at snow.

And this, as I said, is going to stick around through the morning, through the afternoon, we'll start off from parts of the Ohio Valley, you have the low there. That one's going to be basically just sucked up by this low off the coast.

That is what's going to be providing the snow for areas like southern parts of Jersey, as well as into New York City. The five boroughs, you could see anywhere between 1 inch and 3 inches of snowfall.

The good news is, New England, you're not even going to really touch into the snow. The low is going to be pulling offshore. As we look at some of the warnings and advisories out there, want to point out areas including Indiana, Ohio, we're talking 1 inch to 4 inches, 4 inches to 6 inches for regions including Cincinnati, as well as into Columbus.

And then right along the mountains, 6 inches to 12 inches of snowfall. Yes, that's good for the skiers. But, we are expecting some travel delays today. For D.C. metro, an hour or more, the same for Philadelphia, Indianapolis, as well as Columbus, you're looking at delays, and then for Atlanta, also some delays.

Overall, though, you asked me is it going to be quieter over the next couple days? It is. Notice we don't have any really big storm systems coming out. It is going to be cold guys. 20 degrees to 25 degrees below average for this time of year.

HARLOW: It's 25 below average, Jennifer?

DELGADO: Yes, even worse in parts of the plains, 35.

HARLOW: So much for spring. Jennifer Delgado, thank you. Appreciate it.

Well, the United States formally handing over control of a very controversial prison to authorities in Afghanistan, the move fulfilling an agreement between Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The facility near the Bagram Air Base has been a thorny issue between the two countries. There have been many allegations of prisoner abuse there. The prison is right now known as the afghan national detention facility.

BERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry in the Middle East again this morning. On Sunday, he met with Iraqi President Nuri Al Maliki, but apparently made little headway convincing him to stop allowing the flow of arms and troops, which are helping to fuel Syria's bloody civil war.

Secretary Kerry is abusing Iraq of helping Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad arm fighters from Iran to cross into Syria from Iraq.

HARLOW: And new this morning, former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky breaking his silence from behind bars, a documentary filmmaker saying he has recorded telephone conversations with Sandusky that will air today on NBC.

The family of the late, Joe Paterno, the head football coach's legendary career ended in disgrace are already speaking out. They called the recording quote, "a sad and unfortunate development saying it's transparently self-serving, and yet another insult to the victims and anyone who cares about the truth in this tragic story."

BERMAN: A public memorial service for Colorado's prison chief will be held today in Colorado Springs. Tom Clements was laid to rest yesterday in a private funeral. He was shot and killed Tuesday in his driveway. The white supremacist and parolee authorities believe did it was killed Thursday in a shootout in Texas. He's also believed to have killed a pizza deliveryman days before Clements was shot.

HARLOW: And the Supreme Court takes up the issue of same-sex marriage starting tomorrow dozens of people have been camping out in front of the court since Friday, braving the freezing weather, trying to get a seat, a rare seat at this historic hearing.

The court will hear oral arguments on California's Proposition 8 tomorrow, on Wednesday they will take up the defense of marriage act. Both of those laws ban same-sex marriage. We will not get a decision from the high court until later this year.

BERMAN: A $13 billion plan is in place to bail out Cyprus. The European Union agreeing to rescue the island nation from economic collapse. The deal shrinks the bloat the banking system, some banks with balances above 100,000 euros. It could suffer heavy losses. The deal also calls for dismantling of the popular bank of Cyprus with shareholders and bond holders expected to be pretty much wiped out.

HARLOW: One lucky Powerball winner in New Jersey holding a ticket worth $338.3 million this morning. We now know that the winning ticket was sold at the Love's Travel store. Anyone go there? Anyone buy a ticket.

This is the fourth largest jackpot in the game's history. The lump sum payout $221 million. If you're wondering what the winning numbers are, here you go, 17, 29, 31, 52, 55, Powerball, 31.

BERMAN: Love's Travel store.

All right, for the first time ever in the NCAA tournament, a 15-seed is dancing into the sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast made history, dunk city they call them, and man, are they awesome. The Eagles knocked off San Diego State 81-71 last night.

They've only been a division one team for six years. They've only been eligible for the tournament for two years. Now they have to beat their state rival Florida Gators Friday night to make it to the elite eight.

These are your remaining match-ups on Thursday night is Wichita State versus La Salle, Arizona versus Ohio State, Indiana taking on Syracuse, and Marquette against Miami.

On Friday night, it is the number one seed Louisville versus Oregon. Michigan State against Duke, Kansas taking on Michigan, and then the match-up we just told you about, Florida against Florida Gulf Coast. This just in by the way, I'm no longer in last place in the CNN --

HARLOW: In the brackets? You're fourth from last.

BERMAN: I'm fourth from last, but that's not last.

HARLOW: That's not last, always looking at the bright side. Christina -- Christine Romans, early morning and Zoraida, they're beating you.

BERMAN: Zoraida is in first place, Romans is in second, but I'm not in last. That's all I'm saying.

HARLOW: OK, Berman. All right, folks, it was the murder trial that captivated the world's attention. It could happen again. You know that face, Amanda Knox. We're going to take you live to Rome where a decision could come down any moment on a potential retrial in that murder case.

BERMAN: Plus a great white gives some underwater adventurers more than they bargained for. Check this out. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START. Happening now, prosecutors in Italy getting ready to make their case before that nation's highest court. They're trying to retry Amanda Knox for murder. The American student has been free since an appellate court overturned her conviction for stabbing and killing a British student Meredith Kercher back in 2007.

The one-day hearing could also free Knox of slander charges. That would open the door for her to successfully sue her accusers. Our Ben Wedeman is live in Rome with the very latest. Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Poppy. The court session has begun. They are looking at 14 different cases today, and Amanda Knox's case is case number nine.

So we may be waiting for some time to hear whether this court decides this is the end for Amanda Knox's legal ordeal in Italy or it could be the beginning of yet another sensational trial.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): An emotionally overcome Amanda Knox is led from an Italian courtroom moments after learning she was free at last. The murder conviction against her and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito overturned on appeal. That was October 2011.

They had spent four years in prison for the 2007 sexual assault and murder of her roommate, British exchange student Meredith Kercher. It was a tabloid case that riveted the media, attracting an army of journalists to the medieval town of Perugia where Knox and Kercher had been studying Italian language and culture.

Knox's tearful return to her family home in Seattle, Washington, seemed like the end of her ordeal. But it may not have been the end after all. The prosecution is demanding a retrial and will appeal the conviction before the Italian Supreme Court in Rome.

The wheels of Italian justice, however, grind slowly. If the acquittal is overturned, the case could go to an appellate court. If that happens, Knox may have to return to Italy. If she refuses, the Italian authorities could appeal to the U.S. government for her extradition.

If the acquittal is upheld, it's case over. Rudy Gaudet, a native of the Ivory Coast who was raised here is serving a 16-year prison term for Kercher's murder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: Now, the lawyer for Amanda Knox, before entering the court this morning, said that Amanda Knox is confident in the Italian justice system, and she's hoping to return to this country some day, as a free woman -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Ben Wedeman live from Rome for us this morning. Ben, thank you.

BERMAN: Fifteen minutes after the hour right now. Let's bring you up to speed. The calendar may say spring but we're not done digging out of the snow yet. From Missouri to Pennsylvania, millions of people are getting hammered by wind, rain, snow and general awfulness. And the severe weather is not done yet. Parts of eastern Indiana and western Ohio are under a winter storm warning since early this afternoon. And the system is headed this way, coming east.

HARLOW: A sad story this morning. A group Skydive taking a tragic turn. An instructor for students and a student from Iceland found dead in a wooded area in Zephyrhills, Florida. Investigators say that neither of them attempted to deploy their main parachutes and may have somehow lost their altitude awareness. Their backup parachutes apparently were activated automatically but that happened too late to save them. We're told the student who was killed had previously executed successful jumps.

BERMAN: This is strange. The search is on for a missing vial containing a killer disease. It went missing from a lab freezer at the University of Texas medical branch in Galveston. The lab director says the vial contains guanarito, which is an emerging disease that caused deadly outbreaks in Venezuela and that there's been no breach in security and no indication of any wrongdoing.

However, the CDC has been notified. The federal government prioritized guanarito for research because it has the potential to be used by terrorists, they say.

HARLOW: And this is a strange story. Houston authorities blowing the whistle on a train conductor they say that this man, Robert Hartman (ph), confessed to stealing more than 50 train horns since 2009, then selling them on eBay. Those horns cost about 1,500 bucks a pop. Union Pacific officials say every train engine missing a horn has to be completely taken out of service until it is fixed and replaced. They say Hartman's actions cost that railroad more than half a million bucks.

BERMAN: Who steals train whistles?

HARLOW: You do. We talked about this in your office.

BERMAN: All right.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul getting mellow when it comes to marijuana. The conservative Republican was showing more and more of a liberal side on FOX this Sunday when he said it was time to soften some of the nation's harsh drug laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and I really think, you know, look what would have happened? It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky. They don't have good attorneys and they go to jail for these things and I think it's a big mistake.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Actually, I think it would be the last three presidents, but who's counting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Host Chris Wallace there with quickly questioning Paul's math there, mentioning that Bill Clinton, of course, did not inhale.

HARLOW: Some adventure seekers getting way too close for comfort with some great white sharks off the coast of South Africa. Take a look, folks. This is just like a scene out of "Jaws."

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

HARLOW: The tourists thought they were safe inside that shark cage as great whites just checked out the bait dangling outside of the bars. But one shark skipped that bait got straight in towards the divers. His entire head went inside the cage, narrowly missing two divers. As frightening as this looks, nobody got hurt.

And the man who shot that incredible video Brian Plumber (ph) will be our guest in the 8:00 Eastern Time on "STARTING POINT."

And you heard the unbleeped version, right, John?

BERMAN: The unbleeped version is sort of fantastic.

HARLOW: Creative.

BERMAN: Words that I've never heard before.

Eighteen minutes after the hour right now.

Even if you are not cashing in on the stock market, you could be feeling the effects of gas prices this morning. Christine Romans shows us where both are headed, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START. Happy Monday, everyone.

Minding your business this morning, stock futures up across the board, investors happy about that. Bailout deal in Cyprus.

Christine Romans joins us this morning.

I feel like -- well, I know this got done so much more quickly than the agony over Greece. Small country, big deal for investors here in the U.S.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Smaller economy. This was a very different kind of bailout, that's why everybody is watching it. But futures are up this morning. You got Dow futures up by 38 points. So, it looks like it could be a good morning.

Folks are relieved that Cyprus seems to be going in the right direction. The E.U. is behind it. Now, the last week of the first quarter, check out your investments this morning if you haven't looked in awhile. Make sure you're balanced correctly for your age and your financial goals, because the S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent over the first three months of 2013. You can see this rally really took off around last November. Nine percent would be a solid return for the entire year. You've seen 9 percent in less than a quarter.

Everyone keeps asking me when is it going to end? That is impossible to predict. But there's one ratio that Wall Street looks at. It shows prices are cheap right now, at least historically speaking.

Two ways to measure stock prices, right? The share price, and something else called a price-to-earnings ratio. Sounds nerdy, it's important. Boring but important. And people are making money looking at this gauge.

It measures the value of the stock market compared to what companies are earnings and their earnings reports. At the end of the 1990's bull market, this price-to-earnings ratio was 29. 2002 to 2007 and in the late 1980s, when those bull markets ended, it was 17 the P.E. ratio.

The historical average during good times and bad is 16. Today, it is 15. So, what does that mean for your retirement account or for your investments? It means you wouldn't be -- it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the rally kept going at least from that historical standard.

Another way to measure the market it's not like when Alan Greenspan in the '90s said irrational exuberance, stock market kept going on. You had the P.E. go up all the way to 29. We're at 15 right here.

BERMAN: So, besides that tasty tidbit, what is the one other thing do we have to know about our money?

ROMANS: You know, not everyone is invested in stock market. Everyone is invested in gasoline. Forty-seven percent of you say you don't own stocks. Everyone feels it when gas prices go up. And now, finally some relief on gas prices.

AAA says the national average for gallon of regular $3.67, down 11 cents in a month. And it looks compared to a year ago, 21 cents below what it was last time -- this time last year. It means you've got a little bit of extra money in your pocket.

Gas Buddy, though, says we could see another small increase in mid- April or May ahead of the summer driving season.

BERMAN: You know, we're going to listen to you Christine Romans. Do you know why?

ROMANS: Why, John Berman?

BERMAN: Because you are winning the CNN anchor bracket challenge. I misspoke earlier and said you were in second place. That is not, in fact, true. You are winning.

ROMANS: I had to fact check you. I am not number two, I am number one. Yes, and I will trash talk as long as I remain number one. I would like to know what the ratio of the average you've spent watching college basketball is like 100-to-1, you think?

BERMAN: At least.

ROMANS: A hundred to one.

So I just took the fundamentals of each team and I pretended like it was a stock and I made a stock portfolio, that was my bracket. And so far, it's working.

HARLOW: Going all the way, you have?

ROMANS: I have Michigan State going all the way. And they're doing well right now, right?

BERMAN: Do you even know if they're still in? You don't even know! This is -- man, this is criminal.

HARLOW: Berman is fourth to last. My friend Don Lemon -- sorry, buddy -- dead last.

ROMANS: Don Lemon is dead last?

HARLOW: Dead last. Romans is winning. I want you to go all the way.

BERMAN: She doesn't even know if her team is still in it. This is not justice, ladies and gentlemen.

ROMANS: Berman, I wish I had money on it. That's the only thing I wish I had money.

HARLOW: Which make a late bet after the show, guys.

All right. Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: A gator lurking dangerously close to a school. Coming up, a mom caught on camera in a life or death struggle with that beast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)