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North Korea Threats; Coach Fired After Abuse Video Goes Public; Deadly Floods Prompt National Mourning in Argentina; Obama Giving Back Five Percent of Salary; All Teams in Atlanta for Final Four

Aired April 4, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Anxious hours right now from North Korea to Washington, the White House treading very carefully, trying to figure out if Kim Jung Un means business.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A towering inferno caught on camera. New information this morning from the scene of this high rise fire.

BERMAN: So, will the other shoe drop at Rutgers University? The basketball coach already fired for his abusive behavior caught on video. Now, there's talk his bosses could be next.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, in for Zoraida Sambolin. It's Thursday, April 4th. It's past 30 minutes past the hour.

New developments this morning from the Koreas. The North is threatening to shut down an industrial complex that shares with the South. And promising nuclear attacks against the U.S., warning the moment is, quote, "fast approaching", while the Pentagon scrambles to move a defense system to the U.S. bases in Guam, two years ahead of schedule.

There's also word out of the White House that -- word out that the White House is trying to turn down the volume for fear of angering North Korea even more.

Jim Clancy with the latest this morning from Seoul, South Korea.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: More threats coming out of North Korea this day really repetitions of what we have heard in the past, but South Korea's defense ministry says that it has confirmed North Korea has moved an intermediate range missile to its eastern coast. Now, that's an area where the U.S. already has two destroyers as well as a radar platform.

The U.S. and South Korea both are anticipating some kind of a missile test to come from the North. All of this comes just a day after the U.S. is moving sophisticated anti-missile defense system to its island bases in Guam. Meantime, at Kaesong, North Korea continues to block South Koreans from getting into the site. And again, on Thursday, it warned that it could pull all 53,000 of the North Korean workers out of the facility, thus, shutting it down. The North is particularly angry at media in South Korea who have criticized Kaesong remaining open because it earns cash for Kim Jung Un, and they say that lack of respect for their leader could be a reason, a motivation for them just to shut Kaesong down, in their words, mercilessly.

So, more threats back and forth, but the U.S. and South Korea appear not to be taking the fear factor too seriously at this point. Instead, they are working to be prepared.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Seoul.


BERMAN: All right. So, this just in, a reward of up to $200,000 now being offered for information leading top arrest and indictment of the killer or killers of district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, or his chief felony prosecutor Mark Hasse. Government offices in Kaufman County, Texas, will be close today so co-workers can attend a public memorial for the McLellands, a funeral to follow tomorrow.

Investigators are still trying to see if there a link between the three killings. A law enforcement official concedes to CNN, we have not yet come close to charging anyone.

ROMANS: Alabama getting tougher on abortion providers. State lawmakers passing a bill that makes clinics raise their standards to the level of emergency health care centers. It also makes it a felony for anyone other than a physician perform an abortion. It requires doctors to ask the pregnant minors about the father of the baby.

Alabama's governor is expected to sign the bill.

BERMAN: We have new information this morning about that towering apartment inferno in Russia. You have to look at these pictures right now. Stunning. The flames razed up 40-story residential skyscraper in Chechnya Wednesday. They may have been caused by a short circuit.

Dozens were evacuated. No injuries reported. More than 100 firefighters were able to put that fire out just a few hours ago.

ROMANS: All right. We're hearing for the first time from the juror who was dismissed from the Jodi Arias trial. Juror number five released a statement saying, quote, "For the past three months I have been fulfilling my duty as one of the jurors in the case of Jodi Arias." The juror says she will not make any further statements until there's a verdict, because the focus should be, quote, "on the actual trial."

BERMAN: So still more heads may roll at Rutgers University after that viral video showed men's basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing players in practice. The coach is apologizing for his behavior after being fired yesterday.

ROMANS: Now, Rutgers athletic director and the university president under fire for singing on a three-game suspension instead of firing him when they first saw the video last fall.

CNN's Pamela Brown has been following this story for us. Good morning.


We could see some more fallout in the wake of yesterday's firing of Mike Rice. The question looms whether athletic director Tim Pernetti will keep his job. Now, he initially made the decision to keep Rice onboard after watching the video of him abusing players, and then changed his tune after the video was released to the public Tuesday.


BROWN (voice-over): After a 24-hour tidal wave of public outrage over this video.


BROWN: Mike Rice's three-year tenure as Rutgers University head basketball coach abruptly came to an end Wednesday.

In a mea culpa, he acknowledged his behavior was out of bounds.

RICE: There's no explanation for what's on those films because there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. And I want to tell everybody who has believed in me that I'm -- that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and the hardship that I've caused.

BROWN: Rice was initially suspended for three games and fined back in December. But after the video went viral, athletic director Tim Pernetti scrambled to defend his decision.

Here's what he said Tuesday.

TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: We're taking this first offense as an opportunity to reeducate Mike Rice on the Rutgers standards.

BROWN: On Wednesday morning, an about face. Pernetti announced Rice was fired after attempts to rehabilitate him.

JON WERTHEIM, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: The statement that the athletic director attempt to rehabilitate someone who engaged in repeated behavior like this is really pretty appalling. And, again, that the precedent for having even kept him for this amount of time is pretty galling and Rutgers does not come out of this looking particularly good, no.

BROWN: Rutgers students are reacting to the fallout. Some saying Pernetti should go, too. VINCENT SPATOLA, RUTGERS JUNIOR: I think the athletic director is probably going to get fired now. He deserves -- you know, he let it go on for this long.

NANCY MUSINGUZI, RUTGERS SENIOR: Why did he wait this long and wait for, you know, it to be public and blow up on national television, on ESPN, on YouTube to go, OK, maybe we should stop this because we're getting negative exposure.

BROWN: And for the first time we're hearing from former players who were subject to Rice's attacks. Tyree Graham spent two years playing for Rice and said he was just trying to motivate players.

TYREE GRAHAM, COACHED BY RICE FOR 2 SEASONS: He's not as bad as the media right now is making him seem. Coach Rice, you know, he's one of those guys that, he's very passionate. Don't get me wrong.

But at the same time, a lot of those times on the film when he was jacking up a player or throwing a ball at a player, he was really joking.

BROWN: A Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino who's known to get angry on occasion says Rice's extreme behavior is well beyond the norm.

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE BASKETBALL COACH: You know, I've never seen anything like that before. And I'm sure that there's a different side of him that really cares about his players. But that was difficult to watch, to say the least.


BROWN: And now, New Jersey state officials are saying they're planning on holding hearings over how the university handles this situation.

BERMAN: I mean, it's clearly a P.R. issue here. But I guess one of the questions is, are there legal implications for this now fired coach and the university?

BROWN: What's interesting here, John, is there could be more legal implications for the university more than Mike Rice. And here's why. We spoke to a legal analyst and he tells us that because the university made a deal with Mike Rice back in December, and now fired him, this could be a breach of contract.

And also, you have to remember that Mike Rice is a state employee, as an employee of Rutgers University. So he has the right to certain protections as a result of that.

But I will say that we heard his mea culpa yesterday, admitting his wrongdoing. So, it would be difficult for him to successfully sue the university.

BERMAN: It was filled with kind of humility right there. It's hard to imagine him suing but I guess we'll see. ROMANS: All right. It may have been the ugliest sports injury ever. Now, Louisville guard Kevin Ware is talking out it for the first time. It was just last Sunday there in Louisville regional final game against the Duke, the sophomore went up to contest a shot. When he came down his leg was shattered. The injury so gruesome that players, fans, millions of people watching at home had to turn away.


KEVIN WARE, INJURED LOUISVILLE GUARD: Coach P just kind of gave me one of those looks like, like somebody just saw a ghost or something like that. And I'm looking at him like, you know, confused. Well, I looked down at my leg and I'm just kind of like my arm. And I see my sneaker on but my leg is like this. I just go into automatic shock.


ROMANS: Ware says he won't let the injury hold him back from continuing his career. He plans to be with the Louisville teammates in Atlanta for the Final Four this weekend.

BERMAN: All right. Checking CNN trends all over the papers this morning. "Hot seat, Leno's out. Here's Jimmy."

Also, "Hit the road, Jay," in the "New York Daily News."

ROMANS: There's a lot of money in there.

BERMAN: There's a lot of money for a lot of people involved here. It is official, late night host Jimmy Fallon will take over for "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno next February. Fallon tweeted, "Today was one of the most exciting days of my life. I read every tweet and every post and I thank you."

So, Leno tweeted this, "Had a really awkward day today. Had to call Letterman and tell him he didn't get 'The Tonight Show' again."

ROMANS: David Letterman meantime had plenty to say about NBC's late- night shake up on his show last night.


DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: How many of you saw the white smoke coming out of the chimney at NBC? Anybody see that? We have a new pope.

I got a call from my mom today. She says, well, David, I see you didn't get "The Tonight Show" again. You got to know mom.


ROMANS: I like that. Laugh a little too hard --

BERMAN: Little too hard, wasn't it?

ROMANS: Letterman even had a Leno themed top ten list last night that will soon be the only network late night host not named Jimmy. They all have Js. All the late night legends, all start with a "J."

BERMAN: I wonder that means.

ROMANS: I don't know, John.

BERMAN: A rare move by commander in chief.

Coming up, why President Obama is giving back to the government straight from his own bank account.

ROMANS: Plus, your receding hairline and how it could mean you're at risk for something even more serious.


ROMANS: Brooke Baldwin joins us now for a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, good morning.

So, coming up on "STARTING POINT," we're going to continue where you all left off, talking North Korea upping the ante this morning. The regime has reportedly moved a medium-range missile to its east coast, raising concerns about a possible nuclear attack. Are they bluffing or is this a real threat?

We'll talk about that with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who will be on the show. He's been to North Korea several times.

Also talking to CNN military analyst, General James "Spider" Marks. And then the now former Rutgers coach Mike Rice is apologizing after this damning video was released showing him physically, verbally abusing players. We will talk with a former Rutgers player who actually says the video isn't what it seems. Don't miss that.

Also, he is an award winning actor starring in the hit show "The Borgias." Jeremy Irons joins us with a look at the new season.

And you, John Berman, pointed out he has been haunting your children, not only is he in "The Borgias," he's the voice of Scar in "The Lion King," frightening voice, frightening his little twins.

BERMAN: That guy also like the most charming person I've ever met.

BALDWIN: He was intoxicating. I think you have a crush.




ROMANS: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

BERMAN: Forty-three minutes after the hour right now.

Rain and thunderstorms in parts of the South today and they are on the move. So who is going to get them next?

Jennifer Delgado is at the CNN weather center.


BERMAN: Good morning, Jennifer.

DELGADO: Good morning, guys.

Yes, we're getting the storms down here for today. In fact, let's start up with a live shot out of Atlanta to show you what rain looks like. Maybe you haven't seen any in a while.

Well, starting off the morning, you're looking at the Centennial Olympic Park. And if you look really closely, you can almost start to see some of the preps for the Final Four this weekend. It's raining now but the good news is, it's going to dry out for the big games this weekend.

As we head over to our radar and we point out some of the rain out there. Storms from Florida all of the way over towards parts of Oklahoma where they're dealing with just a little bit of sleet as well as snow. That's really going to come to an end over the next hour. Not going to amount to much.

But, Nashville, you're looking at a wet start as well. Of course, we mentioned Atlanta, Birmingham. And then over across the coastline for areas, including South Carolina, starting off the morning wet.

For Florida, Central Florida, you're going to pick up potentially two to four inches of rainfall in addition to some stronger storms to arrive later into the afternoon as well as into the overnight hours. Some of these storms could produce some hail, damaging winds, as well as isolated tornadoes. Don't want to forget about Southern Georgia as well.

All that rain is going to be moving somewhere, and it's going to move towards the mid-Atlantic as well as the northeast. And that's really going to start to make its way across the region as we go into the overnight hour. Through the Carolinas, we stop the clock at 11 o'clock. Tomorrow morning, it's going to be wet for Washington, D.C. as well as into New York, but the good news is, and the afternoon that pulls away.

And then, you're going to see the sky clearing out in the evening hours for parts of the northeast. High temperatures today getting better, especially for New York City, 52, 59 for Friday, then you drop and down on Saturday, but you'll have the sunshine. That will be the tradeoff. For Atlanta, up and down, 46 for today, 71 by Saturday, and of course, Final Four starts then.

And then, we want to show you some video right now coming out of California. This is another really cute video. It's the "aw" moment of the day. You're looking at a baby see lion cub and it's in the car. The sea lion was basically moving along on the roadway. It's injured and it got into someone's car like, hey, help me out.

I'm hungry. I'm dehydrated. Luckily, he was close to the San Diego Zoo, so they took him right over there. Isn't he cute?

ROMANS: The sea lion thing. We've got to investigate this further.


ROMANS: We have a sea lion story everyday. There was some speculation earlier this week that maybe there was something happening to the sardines in the ocean and the food supply had a problem and they were coming inland to hydrate and hungry. So -- glad that people are picking him up --

BERMAN: Even glad that guy's got a home in San Diego Zoo.

ROMANS: Thanks, Jennifer.

DELGADO: I know. Exactly. Bye, guys.

BERMAN: Thanks, Jennifer.

So, 46 minutes after the hour right now. And guys with thinning hair need to take better care of their hearts, apparently. Researchers in Japan say they went through years of previous research into the possible links between hair loss and heart problems after adjusting for other risk factors like age and family history. They found that balding men are 32 percent more likely to have heart disease. It doesn't really seem fair, especially if the thinning is on the crown.

ROMANS: Hmm. All right. Talk about an Apple TV set heating up. One analyst says he knows, he has the details. Brian White (ph) of Topeka Capital Net Market said he visited suppliers in China and Taiwan and he 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, and instead of a remote, a ring that you put on your finger. Cool, right? The late Steve Jobs said he wanted to remake TV. But remember, rumors have been swirling for years. We'll see if there's an Apple TV.

BERMAN: Take the one ring to rule them all. The "Lord Of The Rings" Frodo is going to running your TV at home from now in.

ROMANS: Just what every marriage needs, instead to fight over the remote control, a fight over the ring.

BERMAN: A fight for the ring. Put a ring on it. All right.


BERMAN: So, there is something wrong with this picture. Take a look at this. This is Shaquille O'Neal's newly retired jersey. Can you spot the mistake? Look at that. The answer right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Happening right now --

Deadly floods prompting Argentina's president to declare three days of national mourning. Relentless rain and flooding has killed at least 48 people in La Plata, outside of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires was not spared. Eight storm-related deaths have been reported there, so far.

ROMANS: President Obama deciding to donate five percent of his $400,000 a year salary back to the treasury department. The White House says he wants to share in the sacrifice being made by federal workers who are also, of course, affected by those forced spending cuts. The president will be cutting a check every month for the next 12 months totaling $20,000.

BERMAN: Not going to take much of a dent out of the debt, is it?

ROMANS: Pretty symbolic. Yes.

BERMAN: The president also announcing plans to attend the dedication of the George W. Bush library in Dallas later this month. That makes five current or former commanders in chief will be on hand, including George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. I love it when all the presidents get together.

ROMANS: Yes. That's really cool.

All right. The Final Four is almost here. All of the teams have arrived in Atlanta, but the talk of the tournament is the player who won't even be competing.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes joins us now with more in the Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, guys. All eyes remain on Louisville Cardinal's guard, Kevin Ware, who suffered by far the worst injury we've ever seen on a basketball court.

Yesterday, Ware spoke with CNN's Rachel Nichols about what he's gone through over the past few days, and he says he never wants to see the video of his gruesome injury.


KEVIN WARE, INJURED LOUISVILLE GUARD: I've seen pictures and I've seen it and quick glance of it. I just turn away from it, you know, because I kind of feel like me trying to get back on the basketball court that would just stop me from getting where I need to be. And, I don't want to see the video. I don't plan on ever seeing the video, honestly.


SCHOLES: Ware was with the Cardinals as they arrived in Atlanta last night. He plans on being with the team every step of the way, including sitting on the bench Saturday night when Louisville takes on Wichita State.

The Atlanta Falcons are giving linebacker, Bryan Banks, a second chance, and it's one he definitely deserves. Back in 2002, banks was a highly recruited prospect who would commit at the USC when a classmate accused him of rape. He went to prison for five years, and the woman, eventually, recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name after he was out of prison. His conviction was overturned in May of last year. And now, Banks will finally get his chance to live out his dream and play in the NFL.

This is one of the top stories on right now. On Tuesday night, Shaq had his jersey retired by the Lakers at Staple Center, but when it was place with the other eight jerseys (INAUDIBLE) it didn't look right. That's because it's backwards. O'Neal and the number 34 are on the front of the jersey instead of the back. Now, Lakers have realized their mistake and said it will be fixed before tomorrow night's game against Memphis.

All right, guys. If you're on to date at a baseball game, here's the example of what not to do. Tuesday night, a homerun ball came flying into the centerfield seats in Arizona. This guy jumped out of the way to safety, allowing his girlfriend to get smacked right in the face.

BERMAN: Oh, no.

SCHOLES: I'm guessing it was not a pleasant ride home from the ballpark for those two. But, hey, not all baseball games in Arizona end in doom. Last night, this guy he pulled an engagement ring out of a baseball. As you can see, his girlfriend pretty shocked, but she would eventually say yes and seal it with a kiss. So, guys, at least there's one happy ending coming out of the Arizona Diamondback game.

ROMANS: When you do a proposal from a baseball, is the guy you're really setting -- you're setting the standard for the marriage, you know? It's like you know you are marrying a baseball fan.

SCHOLES: Exactly.

BERMAN: I assume. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?


BERMAN: No. But a little bit more romantic than letting your girlfriend get smacked in the face with a baseball.


SCHOLES: Very true.

BERMAN: Just slightly. All right, Andy. Thanks so much.

"STARTING POINT" is just moments away and we're back right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Almost top of the hour. That's EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" with John and Brooke Baldwin starts right now.