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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

North Korea Threats; Civilian Worker at Fort Knox Killed; Connecticut Passes Sweeping Gun Laws; Facebook Expected to Unveil Phone; Apple TV Details?

Aired April 4, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Missile crisis on the Korean peninsula. Washington walking a fine line as the North talks again of a nuclear attack.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Murder at one of the most secure spots in America. A manhunt under way right now after a shooting at Ft. Knox.

BERMAN: Man versus shark. New this morning, a surfer suddenly attacked at a vacation hotspot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: You guys probably heard the news I'm going to be taking over for "The Tonight Show" next February.

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: I want to congratulate our good friend, Jimmy Fallon. He is a hell of a guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Passing the baton on "The Tonight Show." Leno's out, Fallon's in. And while you were sleeping, both hosts had a little something to say about it.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off this week.

It is Thursday, April 4th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we're going to start with the military situation. It seems ever more perilous this morning. Warships launching, new missile defense systems deployed and the language is getting flat-out dangerous.

The Korean peninsula might be the world's number one hotspot right now, the North threatening to block workers from the South from entering a shared industrial complex, even vowing to shut the facility down. Pyongyang also promising attacks on the U.S. with a smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear force, and North Korea also warns the moment of explosion is fast approaching.

And while the Pentagon announced it's moving a ballistic missile defense system to its U.S. base in Guam, two years ahead of schedule, there is also word out of Washington this morning that it wants to try to dial down the rhetoric.

We are all over this story this morning. Dan Lothian is live from Washington, but we're going to begin in South Korea with Jim Clancy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry was clear that details are not going to be released, but it is believed the North Koreans are moving or repositioning some medium-ranged missiles to the East Coast. Now, that is where the U.S. already has a couple of destroyers, as well as a radar platform to monitor a suspected upcoming missile test.

At the same time, the news came from Washington that an advanced antimissile system was going to be deployed in Guam, that is the site of one of the largest U.S. bases in the Pacific.

Now, in other news, the threats against the United States just keep coming, repeats, really, of what we saw last week, saying the U.S. had better ponder over the grave situation. The moments of explosion is approaching fast.

The North Koreans repeated those threats against the U.S. mainland, Hawaii and U.S. bases here, as well as U.S. forces in South Korea. The South Korean defense ministry noted that it was prepared for anything but said it was unlikely there would be a major event. The South Koreans and the Americans are keeping a close watch to ensure that the North Koreans don't take advantage of the situation to engage in some kind of a smaller strike.

Meantime, the only symbol of cooperation between North and South continued to have more problems. And once again, the North said that it would pull all of its 53,000 workers out of the Kaesong industrial complex that's located just on the northern side of the demilitarized zone inside North Korea. It's a joint venture with some 123 South Korean firms whose workers are no longer able to enter Kaesong. Some do remain inside the facility, but they report that they are running out of the raw goods in order to carry out manufacturing and assembly.

All in all, a very tense time, but at the same time, but at the same time, the U.S. and South Korea continue their military maneuvers that are really aimed to be a deterrent to the North, a deterrent that has worked for many years.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Concern in the White House this morning that the flexing of U.S. military might has pushed North Korea too far. According to "The Wall Street Journal," the Obama administration has decided to turn down the volume.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian live from Washington on that part of the story for us this morning. Dan, this report reveals that the administration has a game plan for showing military force, but it also says the White House is now dialing back. Why?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right. I mean, the report talks about sort of this playbook, if you will, that has specific steps that was signed off on by the administration. Essentially, the U.S. is flexing its muscles to try to turn down the temperature, not only in North Korea but also in the region there.

But this report pointing out that the steps that the U.S. has taken may have been more provocative, may have pushed and provoked this new leader, Kim Jung Un, more than intended. So they're dialing things back just a bit.

Keep in mind that the U.S. presence has been increasing in the region in recent weeks starting back on March 8th when the U.S. flew B-52s as part of what was described as a routine mission. Then, about 2 1/2 weeks later, a repeat mission was also conducted.

And then on the 28th, about two days later after that last B-52 mission, stealth bombers were sent to the region. Earlier this week, Navy ships sent just off the coast as well, with a platform for radar communications and so forth. And then, just yesterday, the U.S. announcing that a missile defense system would be sent to Guam in recent weeks.

So, all these steps part of a playbook, according to the report, but now put on hold as the U.S. tries to assess the situation there in North Korea.

ROMANS: And it's just so hard to gauge what the reaction's going to be of the North Koreans. I mean, quite frankly, it's, you know, it's a hermit -- we just don't know how they're going to react. So how do you balance strong response while not pushing North Korea into a corner?

LOTHIAN: You know, that is such an important question, and I think, you know, it has been very confusing for U.S. officials because as everyone has been saying, you know, there has been sort of this history of these kinds of threats. But there is this sense now that this new leader may be more unpredictable, perhaps more dangerous than his father.

Nonetheless, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that the U.S. cannot take any chances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It only takes being wrong once, and I don't want to be the secretary of defense who was wrong once. So, we will continue to take these threats seriously. I hope the North will ratchet this very dangerous rhetoric down. There is a pathway that's responsible for the North to get on a path to peace, working with their neighbors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: So, again, the warning to North Korea is to stop this kind of rhetoric, rather, these provocative acts, because they will only serve to isolate them from the international community -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Dan Lothian in Washington. Thanks, Dan.

BERMAN: Ten minutes after the hour.

And happening right now: the search is on for a man who opened fire at Ft. Knox, killing a civilian worker for the U.S. Army.

Remember, this is one of the most secure locations on Earth. Investigators in Kentucky say yesterday's shooting took place in a parking lot. They describe it as a personal incident. It triggered a temporary lockdown of Ft. Knox. That's been lifted, but security is still heightened at the entrance and exit gates. The victim's identity has not been released.

ROMANS: Also happening now, a manhunt for two members of the white supremacist gang 211 crew. They're wanted in connection with the murder of Colorado state's prison chief Tom Clements. Forty-seven- year-old James Lohr and 31-year-old Thomas Goulee are considered armed and dangerous. Authorities say one or both of them could be headed to Nevada. An El Paso County sheriff spokesman would not say whether the pair knew Evan Ebel, the man suspected of killing Clements.

And a disturbing letter, by the way, has surfaced, written by Ebel to a friend back in 2006. In it, he discusses fantasies about catching prison guards once he's freed, torturing and eventually killing them. The letter is signed with a swastika and he calls himself, quote, "big bad evil, Evan Ebel." Ebel was killed in a shoot-out with Texas deputies last month.

Coming up tonight on CNN's "A.C. 360," an exclusive interview with the wife of murdered Colorado prison chief Tom Clements.

BERMAN: New this morning -- just a few hours ago, the state of Connecticut putting the nation's toughest gun laws on the books less than four months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Early this morning, the statehouse passed a measure that adds more than 100 guns to the list of banned assault weapons and makes buying or selling large-capacity magazines illegal.

Governor Dan Malloy is expected to sign the bill at noon. Much of the law takes effect as soon as the ink hits the paper.

ROMANS: New this morning, a southern California man hospitalized in Hawaii after a giant shark takes a bite out of his leg. This horrifying incident happening Wednesday morning at Ka'anapali Beach off the coast of Maui. The 58-year-old described the shark's head as the size of a basketball. He's being treated for two huge gashes to his right thigh.

A fellow surfer from Detroit saw it happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID TUZINOWSKI, WITNESSED SHARK ATTACK: At one point, I saw a large shadow come right underneath me. I really thought it was a seal. A few minutes later, I heard this kerplunk, this big splash, long board guy. There was just me and another guy, so it hit me that was probably a shark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Lifeguards say based on the man's injuries, the shark maybe anywhere from eight to 10 feet long. And I'm going to tell you, Ka'anapali Beach is full of kids, surfers -- I mean, people watching whales. I mean, this is a really packed beach, a place a lot of people go there in Maui.

BERMAN: And apparently, too many sharks right now.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: A search happening this morning for a shipyard worker who's missing after a Carnival cruise ship broke loose from a dock. Carnival says the Triumph -- you know that one -- is now secure. But no word on where that worker is.

The fire department says he and another man were inside a guard shack when near hurricane-force winds blew it into the water in Mobile, Alabama. On Twitter, fire officials say the coast guard and other agencies now consider the search a recovery operation.

The Triumph was docked at the shipyard for repairs following a disastrous February cruise.

ROMANS: OK, one hiker has been found, but his friend is still lost in the backcountry of Orange County, California. The two Cal State- Fullerton students went hiking on Sunday but couldn't find their way out. Their cell phone died before searchers could nail down their location. Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Cendoya was found about -- last night about a half mile from his car dehydrated and confused, but alive. Searchers are confident they will final 18-year-old Kyndall Jack.

BERMAN: The former Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice is apologizing for his shocking behavior in the practice video that's gone viral. Rice was fired after the video surfaced showing him abusing players and shouting gay slurs. Rice says there's no explanation for what's on that tape.

Meantime, the school's athletic director is now under scrutiny for his handling of the case. Ken Pernetti saw the video last fall but determined then that a fine and three-game punishment was punishment enough for Rice.

ROMANS: All right. It's now official. Jay Leno is out and Jimmy Fallon is in as the host of "The Tonight Show", beginning in February of next year. Fallon was emotional as he talked about it last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FALLON: I'm just so excited to just keep working hard and we're trying to make the best show that we can along with you guys. I've got to say thanks to Jay Leno for being so gracious. I know this whole thing --

(APPLAUSE)

It means so much to me to have his support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, this is what the NBC late-night transition will look like. This is the second time we've seen this. After congratulating Fallon, Jay Leno couldn't help but take another shot at his employer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENO: I just have one request of Jimmy. We've all fought, kicked and scratched to get this network up to fifth place, OK? Now we have to keep it there.

Jimmy, don't let it slip into sixth! We're counting on you! We're counting on you, Jimmy!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: NBC is moving "The Tonight Show" from Los Angeles back to its original home in New York City. I think even the original sound stage. They're rebuilding the studio.

BERMAN: Welcome back to New York.

Everyone was talking about it last night, though, David Letterman was talking about it, we have Leno, you know, Fallon.

ROMANS: Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, even issued a statement on it.

BERMAN: Everyone is talk being this one.

All right. Twelve minutes after the hour right now.

Coming up, a sheriff shot to death in his patrol car. We're going to have more on the brazen attack and the alleged suspect. We'll have a live report, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START this morning.

A suspect arrested in the shooting death of a sheriff, a sheriff known for his tough stance on drugs. Police in Mingo County, West Virginia, say 37-year-old Tennis Maynard parked his car close to Sheriff Walter Crum's SUV and shot him twice in the head through a window.

Susan Candiotti is live for us this morning in Williamson, West Virginia. Susan, bring us up to speed on the latest.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, this has really taken this small town by shock. You know, they're in shock at this moment, trying to figure out how this happened. And maybe the biggest question is, how did it happen?

Part of the answer might come in something we have learned that the suspect in this case said to police after he was arrested. The suspect, 37-year-old Tennis Maynard. Now, authorities are not saying what he told him after they caught up with him. They said it could be interpreted in different ways, but they indicate it might lead them to a motive.

All of this happened, as you indicated, in broad daylight at about noontime when sheriff Eugene Crum was sitting in his parked, marked vehicle, an SUV, just a couple blocks from where I'm standing at the courthouse here, as he often did, eating his lunch in the car when a suspect pulled up behind him, got out of his car, walked up and shot through the sheriff's window at point blank range, striking him twice in the head.

Well, a witness took down the tag number of the suspect's car, called 911. They caught up with him. The suspect crashed his car, got out of it and then pointed a gun at deputies, and they shot him. The community is simply stunned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVELYN KENNEDY, RESIDENT: It broke my heart. The best sheriff the county has ever seen and ever will see probably. He did more in less time of being in office than any sheriff I've ever known.

REBECCA DUNN, RESIDENT: Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. The whole community just heartbroken. He really cares and he was really doing the right thing for Mingo County and to keep our kids safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: You know, this is a coal mining town of about 40,000 people or so, Christine.

ROMANS: What do we know about the suspect? Any indication of a motive right now? I know you say that authorities say he gave some indications after his arrest, but what do we know about him?

CANDIOTTI: Well, we don't know all that much. We don't know, for example, whether he has a prior record, because authorities won't share that information. In the state they don't have a public records law.

However, the father told one of our affiliates, WSAZ, that his son suffered from mental problems and that he had been involved in an industrial accident in Alabama a few years back and was suffering from some chemical reactions to something that happened during that accident. So, we'll have to wait and see what happens.

There is a vigil here tonight at 8:00 at the courthouse for this crime-fighting sheriff -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Susan Candiotti, thank you so much this morning, Susan.

BERMAN: Eighteen minutes after the hour right now. Let's get you up to date on the other big news today.

North Korea now threatening to block workers from the South from entering a shared industrial complex, even vowing to shut down the facility altogether. The North also pledging to launch nuclear attacks against the U.S., warning that the moment of explosion is approaching fast.

ROMANS: Two men are dead this morning after their helicopter crashed in a Miami parking lot and burst into flames. Witnesses say they could hear the engine sputtering before the chopper plunged straight down. An NTSB spokesman said initial reports show there were birds in the area. There may have been problems with the helicopter's tail rotor.

BERMAN: So, through the guardrail, off the bridge and 50 feet down to the pavement. This SUV took just a steep plunge last night in downtown Atlanta. You can see firefighters putting a neck brace on the driver right there. They think he had some kind of medical problem before the crash probably. All three people in the jeep went to the hospital, but luckily, they should be OK. The driver was cited for not having a license.

ROMANS: There he goes. A Florida panther returned to the wild. Scientists rescued this guy and his sister nearly two years ago when they were kittens. Their mother had died. The sister was released in February, but they have monitoring collars on so scientists can keep track of them.

Fewer than 200 panthers are believed to be left in south Florida. Wow.

BERMAN: Big cats.

ROMANS: Two big pieces of news today from the tech world. Apple's new massive TV and Facebook's new phone. We've got details on both of those, next.

BERMAN: Cool.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Minding your business this morning.

Wall Street paying close attention to what's going on in the Korean peninsula right now. Those developments over there. Meanwhile, there was a stock sell-off yesterday.

ROMANS: Yes, when you have tensions in New York, that's something investors get nervous about. Investors nervous about the fact that the government said it was sending a missile defense system to Guam to defend against possible launches from North Korea.

And so -- well, this is real, that's what Wall Street said. A lot of people took money off the table.

But today, a bounce back as the focus shifts to the Bank of Japan's new policy decision aimed at fighting against deflation. So move from the Bank of Japan people are watching, not necessarily the North Korea situation.

Also watching some interesting tech news. Zynga offering online gambling with real money. So far, it's only in the U.K., but online gambling is banned in most U.S. states. Investors optimistic, though, it could soon be offered here.

Zynga's shares surged nearly 15 percent yesterday. That's a very big one-day move.

Offering real money gambling is a play to tap into a highly lucrative market. Zynga built its brand on Facebook games like Farmville, but they aren't as popular as they once were. So you could see that being a natural fit.

A big announcement from Facebook today, by the way. The company isn't giving any details, but a lot of folks are expecting it will unveil a phone this afternoon. Rumor is, the phone will be made by HTC powered by the Android, the Android operating system.

The big goal is advertising. It's Facebook's primary revenue source. The company has struggled to figure out how to make money off its mobile users, especially overseas. But as one Facebook analyst says, that Facebook phone would enable it to get as close to its users as possible.

OK, from phones to televisions, talk of an Apple TV set. One analyst says he has the details. Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets says he visited suppliers in China and Taiwan and believes the so-called iTV could cost between $1,500 and $2,500 and go on sale this year.

Other possible specs, a 60-inch screen, Berman. Imagine the kind of baseball you can watch on that. And instead of a remote, a ring that you put on your finger, the power.

The late Steve Jobs said he wanted to remake TV. Remember, rumors about this have been swirling for years, but how interesting that an analyst goes to factories in Taiwan and China and is trying to sniff out what they're doing? That's how big this announcement is.

BERMAN: I'm fixated on the ring instead of the remote control. You have to be like the Green Lantern to watch TV? I don't understand.

ROMANS: Steve Jobs wanted to --

BERMAN: Be the Green Lantern?

ROMANS: No, look, Apple has remade how you use your phone, how you do your music, right? Why not your TV? BERMAN: TV on.

All right, anyway, 26 minutes after the hour.

And new fallout this morning for that Rutgers coach caught on camera berating and abusing his players. He may not be the only one punished there.

ROMANS: Plus, Kevin Ware speaks out. The support he's getting from the White House, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)