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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

North Korea's Threatening Posturing Against South Korea and U.S. Continues; Worker on Carnival Cruise Ship Missing; Rutgers Basketball Coach Fired for Player Abuse; Interview with Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson;

Aired April 4, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Our STARTING POINT here, the moment of explosion is coming. That specifically is what North Korea is saying this morning as it's threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United States.

Coming up next, we're going to talk to one of the few Americans with really an inside review of this communist country, former governor Bill Richardson.

BERMAN: Then, this question, is the Carnival cruise ship Triumph cursed? The same ship that stranded more than 4,000 people for days just had another accident. And this time, it may be deadly.

BALDWIN: And hours after this disturbing video went public -- we showed it to you all yesterday morning -- we now know Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired. Could the athletic director at the school be next? We will talk to a former Rutgers player.

BERMAN: And it's official, again. Jay Leno is leaving "The Tonight Show" again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LENO: I want to congratulate my good friend Jimmy Fallon. He is a hell of a guy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It is Thursday, April 4th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: Our STARTING POINT this morning is that warning from North Korea. The moment of explosion is approaching fast.

BALDWIN: The country is vowing to block workers here from the South from entering this shared industrial complex, even warning they will shut that facility down. That's one concern. Also, Pyongyang is promising attacks against the United States with, and I'm quoting, "smaller, lighter, and diversified nuclear force."

And then, you have the Pentagon announcing it is now moving a ballistics missile defense system to its U.S. bases in Guam. This is two years ahead of schedule. That move is coming after South Korea reported the north has moved its own missile to the eastern part of the country in preparations for an eminent launch.

BERMAN: This is a big story developing by the minute. We have live team coverage of this Korean crisis. Dan Lothian is live from Washington. But we're going to begin in South Korea live with Jim Clancy who is there. Good morning, Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. You know, we started off the day and we got the word very early and then this afternoon. North Koreans saw it all playing out before their eyes as the television announcer came on their national television. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WI YONG-SUP, SOUTH KOREA DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (via translator): We are maintaining the weapon readiness posture, especially after today's movement of the anti-airborne operations. I believe we are fully prepared to control the critical situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: All right, now, that was a spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry responding there to the announcement that they had detected the movement of medium-range missiles over to the east coast of the Korean peninsula, presumably for a test. It could be a military drill, but both the U.S. and South Korea do expect that the north will test fire a missile as a way to, in a propaganda war that's underway right now, to try to fire a shot back at the U.S. and South Korea's joint military maneuvers. Back to you.

BERMAN: Jim Clancy in Seoul, South Korea, where up until this point tensions seem to have been rising.

BALDWIN: They do. Jim Clancy, thank you. This morning "Wall Street Journal" headline, U.S. dials back on Korean show of force so they're deciding to lower the volume in a show of military might. Dan Lothian is live from Washington. So we're hearing this headline, Dan, but at the same time we're also learning from the Obama administration they have this so-called playbook for North Korea.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That was first reported by the "wall street journal" now independently confirmed by CNN that there was this playbook whereby the North Korea did one thing, then the U.S. would react in a certain way. Now there's this concern though, according to one official that perhaps they may have pushed North Korea's leader too far. So they're dialing things back just a bit.

Keep in mind over the last several weeks the U.S. really has been beefing up its presence in the region. Twice last month the U.S. said b-52 bombers that fly over South Korea as part of what we are told is a routine mission. There were Navy ships sent to the region and then just yesterday, of course, we find out that this missile defense system will be sent to Guam.

A lot of concern because many U.S. officials really don't know Kim Jong-un. They believe that he is unpredictable, perhaps could be more dangerous than his father. And so the secretary of defense here says 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: The warning from the White House is that North Korea needs to concentrate abiding by its international obligations and that if it continues this kind of rhetoric, these kinds of actions, that it will only isolate -- further isolate itself from the international community. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Dan Lothian at for us the White House, thank you.

BERMAN: Few Americans know more about North Korea and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. We will talk to him in a few minutes.

BALDWIN: Next, it is tough to believe but here we go, Carnival Cruise Triumph involved in yet another catastrophe. This one though may be deadly. A worker is missing this morning after this ship escaped from its moorings yesterday afternoon. It has been docked for repairs since that February engine fire that sort of infamously disabled that. Shannon Travis has been tracking the developments on this ship from Washington. Shannon, what do you know?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this is such a worrying story and bizarre at the same time. This worker is identified by local reports as John Johnson, or better known as Buster, as some people call him, a 64-year-old African-American. Apparently he wasn't wearing a life vest at all. The family, as you mentioned, is being told that his chances of survival are remote. But that search is ongoing and the family is asking for the public to pray.

This happened yesterday obviously yesterday. These freak winds, near hurricane force winds, up to 70 miles an hour, Brooke, whipping through Mobile, Alabama, blowing over the shack that these two guards were in, blowing it into the water. One man was recovered. Again, John Johnson remains missing.

Also, involving the Carnival Cruise ship Triumph, some people are wondering if this ship is cursed. This is the same ship that suffered the problems in February with those over 4,000 people on board were stranded. The winds basically ripped, yanked the ship out of a repair dock, sent it adrift into the waters. It's 900 feet long, a massive ship for those winds were pretty rough. Take a listen at one witness actually describe what he saw, Brooke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRANDON VICKERS, WITNESS: We was outside and it was steady raining, nothing serious. Then all of a sudden, by the time we made it into the maritime museum, someone said, oh, my god, look at the carnival cruise ship. I turned to look. I'd seen three portalettes go by. That got my attention. I turned and looked that way and you can see the carnival cruise ship starting to come out of the BAE systems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: Now, Brooke, the coast guard released pictures saying that "triumph" collided with another ship. It is secure right now and all contractors and crew onboard are safe.

BALDWIN: What is going on? Hopefully they will find him and he's OK. I know. Shaking your head. Shannon Travis, thank you.

BERMAN: Six minutes after the hour right now. New development in the search for two missing teen hikers. Christine Romans has that and the rest of the day's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to both of you. New developments this morning for two missing teen hikers. One has been found, the other is still lost. The two Cal State Fullerton students went hiking Sunday in Orange County, California. And 19-year-old Nicholas Gendoya was found last night about half mile from his car. He was confused. He was dehydrated, but he was alive. Searchers say they're confident now they will find 18-year-old Kyndall Jack, too.

New this morning, a southern California man attacked bay giant shark in Hawaii. The horrifying incident happened Wednesday while the man was surfing off the coast of Maui. The 58-year-old victim said the shark's head was the size of a basketball. He's being treated for two deep gashes to his thigh. A fellow surfer from Detroit witnessed it all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID TUZINOWSKI, WITNESSED SHARK ATTACK: At one point I saw a large shadow come right at him. I really thought it was a seal. A few minutes later I heard a big splash. A little guy in the water, so it hit me that was probably a shark.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: County lifeguards say based on the man's injuries that shark may have been anywhere from eight to ten feet long. Just taking a taste and leaving two nasty gashes.

All right, new developments in the investigation of the murder of Colorado state prison chief Tom Clements. There's a manhunt is under way for two members of the white supremacist came 211 crew. And 47- year-old James Lohr and 31-year-old Thomas Goulee are considered armed and dangerous. An El Paso County sheriff's spokesman says they are not considered suspects and will not sigh even if they knew of Ebel. That delivery man left two little girls behind. Their grandfather talked about the tragedy. It's something that's certainly very, very, very sad and eating away at this family.

Meantime, a disturbing letter has surfaced written by Ebel to a friend in 2006. In it he discusses killing prison guards once he is freed, torturing them, eventually killing them. The letter is signed with a swastika, and he calls himself "big bad evil as is Ebel." Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies last month.

Tonight the CNN exclusive, the widow of prison chief Tom Clements, she will speak to our Anderson Cooper. That's at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

A developing story this morning in Fort Knox. Police search for a gunman who killed a civilian worker at that base. Investigators say yesterday's shooting happened in a parking lot. They described it as a personal incident. It prompted a temporary lockdown. The victim's identity has not been released.

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, of course, affected by forced spending cuts. The president will cut a check every month for the next 12 months totally $20,000. The president announcing plans to attend the dedication of the George W. Bush library this month. There will be five current or former commanders in chief on hand, including George Bush sr., Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. That will be an amazing photo-op.

Television's worst kept secret in TV is now out in the open. NBC making it official, Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno as host of the tonight show February of next year. Here's what they had to say about it last night. Let's start with Jimmy Fallon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: We keep working hard and trying to make the best show that we can along with you guys. Thanks to Jay Leno for being so gracious. I know this whole thing means so much for me to have his rapport.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I just have once 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 us slip into sixth. We're counting on you. We're counting on you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: "The Tonight Show" will be moving back from L.A. back to original home in New York.

And this home-run ball turned into a bean ball. Pete Cosma smacked into center left and hit a woman smack in the head. Hit the woman because it might have hit the guy if he didn't bravely jump out of the way.

BALDWIN: Did she take one for the team there.

ROMANS: She took one for the team. She seems to be OK.

BERMAN: Look, the dude just jump out of the way.

BALDWIN: You always bring your glove, right? You would have jumped in front of your wife.

BERMAN: I would catch it bare handed if I had to. I would catch it in my teeth if I had to.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Maybe that will be part of the wedding video one day. Poor thing.

OK. So, Rutgers, let's talk about it this morning. More dominos could fall at Rutgers University stemming from this video showing this basketball coach physically and verbally abusing his players there during practice.

BERMAN: So the coach Mike Rice has now been fired. This morning the school's athletic director and president as well are under scrutiny for their handling of the case. CNN's Pamela Brown is following the developments. Good morning, Pam.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It appears the story is far from over. In the wake of Mike Rice's firing the question is whether athletic director Tim Pernetti will go as well. Pernetti initially made the decision to suspend rice in December and then changed his tune after the video went public.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: After a 24-hour tidal wave of public outrage over this video Mike Rice's three-year tenure as Rutgers University head basketball coach abruptly came to an end yesterday. In a mea culpa, he acknowledged his behavior was out of bounds.

MIKE RICE, FORMER RUTGERS UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL COACH: 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. Right after the video went viral, athletic director Tim Pernetti scrambled to defend his decision. Here's what he said Tuesday.

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

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's 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. Rutgers does not come out of this looking particularly good, no.

BROWN: Rutgers students are reacting to the fall tout, some saying Pernetti should go, too.

VINCENT SPATOLA, RUTGERS JUNIOR: I think the athletic director is probably going to get fired now. He deserves it. 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 and 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 play for rice and says he was just trying to motivate players.

TYREE GRAHAM, COACHED BY RICE FOR TWO 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, you know, he's very passionate. Don't get me wrong. 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 is known to get angry on occasion says rice's strange behavior is well beyond the norm.

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE BASKETBALL COACH: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And now New Jersey state officials are saying they're planning on holding hearings over how the university handled this situation. And I should say Pernetti isn't the only one catching heat here. Faculty members at Rutgers calling on the university's president to resign. BALDWIN: It's a domino effect. Remember yesterday morning we were wondering what would happen to the coach, and 24 hours later we now know. Pamela Brown, thank you.

We saw in Pam's piece Tyree Graham, one of the former players for Rutgers, actually was in -- starting two seasons, played back in 2010. Interestingly, he says that this coach, you know, the Big East conference is a tough conference and that the coach wanted to just get them ready to be disrespected by the players by what we've seen. We're going to be talking to him.

BERMAN: Interesting perspective, to say the least.

Next on STARTING POINT we're also going to talk to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He has been to North Korea several times. He has so much insight into the situation going on right now.

BALDWIN: And basketball, Louisville player Kevin Ware talking to CNN after that horrendous leg injury he suffered during last Sunday's Duke game. What he's asking first lady Michelle Obama, coming up. 15 minutes past the hour. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: More on our top story. A nuclear threat from North Korea's dictator leaving the world wondering and really nervous about the question of whether it's all talk.

BALDWIN: Bill Richardson is the former governor of New Mexico and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He has visited North Korea many times. Most recently just in January. Governor, good morning.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Good morning, Brooke.

BALDWIN: As we mentioned you have been multiple times. You are a rarity in that you actually have a relationship with North Korea. The question is, given all this news, how serious is this? So you think they're bluffing?

RICHARDSON: Well, it's serious. Are they bluffing? The answer is, nobody really knows anything about this new young leader. My concern is that he's being manipulated by the hard line elements in North Korea: the party Congress, the militant hard line military that want some kind of confrontation. At the same time there's been a lot of rhetoric but no real action.

Now, you take that caisson factory, they're taking out the South Korean employees, some 5,000, but the 54,000 North Koreans that are employed, they're still there. So you know, if there's a positive good sign, that is one. So what I'm saying is that a lot of rhetoric, little action.

But I think our response has been appropriate. Cool, calm, but at the same time putting our military resources ready in case there's an emergency. But if they try anything with the United States, it's suicidal. That's not going to happen.

BALDWIN: Well, governor, there's a report that indicates the United States really sort of feeling its way through its response in this way. The "Wall Street Journal" reporting that the United States trying to dial back its rhetoric a little bit. Let me read you a quote from that.

It said, "After a high visibility display of military power aimed at deterring North Korean provocations, the White House is dialing back the aggressive posture amid fears that it could inadvertently trigger an even deeper crisis."

That the "Wall Street Journal" says according to U.S. officials. Do you think it's a good idea to dial back the rhetoric and tone it down a little bit?

RICHARDSON: yes, I think that is the right posture. What has happened in the past is North Korea always likes to test the new leader in South Korea. Now, there was just an election of a woman president there. She's just been in office a short time. Every five years or so the North Koreans test this new leader in South Korea with some kind of provocation, with rhetoric. This may be going on at the same time. So I think the administration's response does make sense in the sense that you don't want to continue this huge rhetoric and at the same time provoke some kind of incident. The danger is not a war with the United States or South Korea, I think. The danger is some kind of military altercation in the Yellow Sea, a Naval skirmish of some kind.

BALDWIN: What about, Governor Richardson, what about opening up a line of communication? I hate to bring up Dennis Rodman but here he is saying, look the President of the United States should be picking up the phone and talking to the leader, this young leader of this country. Maybe not the president but you say yes, you say perhaps the North Korean envoy should be reaching out.

RICHARDSON: Yes. I do believe that. I think there has to be an end game to the administration's policy. And the end game, in my view, is diplomacy. Some kind of special envoy, some kind of South Korean diplomat. China needs to play a more important role. They really haven't done anything to lean on North Korea. They helped us at the United Nations with drafting of some very tough sanctions, but they've kind of been backing off. They're key here.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: They haven't expressed dismay this week. Dismay was the word from China. Longtime ally with North Korea.

RICHARDSON: Well that's -- I mean, we can all express dismay. It's like rhetoric and no action. I think what China can do, they have leverage over North Korea. They provide them food and fuel and hard currency. So they could do a lot more. I'm not blaming them. I still think some kind of diplomacy is needed by this six-party countries in the region. South Korea, United States, maybe the secretary general of the United Nations who is South Korean. Maybe some kind of neutral country. But something is needed to cool things down.

BALDWIN: Okay. Governor Bill Richardson, thank you.

BERMAN: Twenty-three minutes after the hour. Ahead on STARTING POINT, is Facebook ready to take on Google phone? The buzz surrounding the social network next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Minding your business this morning. Dell futures pointing to a 50 point rise at the open. This after the bank of Japan is taking some pretty radical steps to stop two decades of deflation. Japan is the world's third largest economy. And (ph) bounce back, in markets expected after yesterday's decline.

Also expected today maybe an announcement from Facebook. Company is not giving details but is expected to unveil a phone this afternoon. Rumor is the phone will be made by HTC and powered by the Android operating system. The big goal, of course, is advertising. It's how Facebook makes money. The company has struggled to figure out how to make money off the mobile users, especially overseas. Facebook shares are down more than 30 percent since the IPO last year.

Okay. Let's stay on gadgets. Talk of an Apple TV set. Apple TV, can you imagine? Heating up. And one analyst says he knows. He has the details. Brian White of Topeka Capital Market says he visited suppliers in China and Taiwan and believes the so-called iTV will go on sale this year for $1500 and $2500. Other possible specs, a 60 inch screen and instead of a remote, a ring that you put on your finger. But, remember rumors have been swirling for years. You know, and Steve Jobs had said before he passed one of the things he had said is that he wanted to remake the consumer experience of a television. You know, we've been basically watching television the same way --

BALDWIN: But a ring instead of a remote. How is that supposed to work?

ROMANS: I don't know. I don't know.

BERMAN: More on this later.

ROMANS: I don't know.

BALDWIN: Yes, much more.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT we are talking to a former Rutgers player about the shocking video of head basketball coach -- former coach now, Mike Rice. What he says and why he says it's not as bad as it seems. That's next.

BERMAN: And going bald effects more than just your head. Yikes. What it could mean for your heart. Coming up, you're watching STARTING POINT.

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