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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Korea Crisis; Blizzard Watch in Northern Plains; Obama Gun Control Push; Louisville Coach Rick Pitino's Big Week

Aired April 9, 2013 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, preparing for war in North Korea telling the south to evacuate foreigners to get ready and now nearby countries with missile launchers on the move.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A tale of two seasons. Winter storm warnings in the plains. Well, spring temperatures could crack 80. They can crack 80 here in the northeast.

SAMBOLIN: Stop rubbing it in.

And the Louisville Cardinals champions of college basketball. Congratulations, Mr. Berman. Their victory over Michigan so emotional it brought Coach Rick Pitino to tears.

BERMAN: What a game.

SAMBOLIN: It was a fantastic game.

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

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Tuesday, April 9th. About 31 minutes after the hour, and there are new developments we're following right now from the Koreas. This morning, the north is sounding more and more like it's ready for war. The north now warning South Korea to prepare to evacuate foreigners, increasingly hostile rhetoric has Japan deploying patriot missiles at three locations forming a protective ring right now around Tokyo.

Jim Clancy is live for us in Seoul, South Korea. And Jim, what do you make of these warnings right now and what has the response been from the south so far?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're just veiled threats, John. Veiled threats that they're going to attack South Korea and that if you're a foreigner working here, living here, a tourist here, you should make plans to find some place to hide or to leave the country. It's an attempt to disrupt this the fourth largest economy in Asia and attempt to blackmail the South Koreans to do some kind of harm to them.

Not many people are taking this seriously, none that I know of. The embassies have said they don't want to even respond to every salvo of rhetoric that's being fired now from Pyongyang. Instead, they're telling people to stay calm, stay put. They do not see a risk here on the Korean Peninsula -- John?

BERMAN: Nevertheless, though, some countries are at least taking measures to protect themselves. Japan putting up patriot missile batteries around Tokyo. What does that indicate to you?

CLANCY: What it indicates to me, most importantly, John, it indicates that diplomacy is almost off the table. Japan, in particular, is fed up with trying to deal with North Korea. This has been a process that has been taking place over years. They have opted for a deterrent. That deterrent are the missile -- anti-missile batteries, the patriots that they can put up, and that sends a message to Pyongyang, we won't be intimidated by your threats.

I should add that there are such batteries here in South Korea. They don't like them publicized. They don't like them shown, but they have them as well. That's just prudence in the face of threats in the face of a young leader that no one can really predict. He's obviously reckless. The question is, how far is he going to take this? -- John.

BERMAN: Indeed and has been pointed out to us that those patriot missiles have been put in place several times since 2009. That's important to know. Jim Clancy in Seoul, South Korea, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour. Dramatic new developments overnight in the search for those two little boys who were allegedly snatched from their grandparents' Florida home last week by their own father. Two-year-old Chase Hakken (ph) and his big brother, four-year-old brother, Cole, are reportedly in the custody of Cuban immigration officials this morning along with their parents.

It's believed their father, Joshua, took them and his wife to the island nation by a sail boat. The children were taken away from the couple last year and their parental rights were stripped last week by the state of Louisiana. The "El Nuevo Herald," a newspaper in Miami reports they're in the custody of Cuban immigration officials right now.

BERMAN: Happening right now, freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and look at this. Hail pelting parts of Kansas. I always think that looks other worldly. Plus, gusty winds and reports of tornadoes in Northern Colorado. Winter certainly back for a huge portion of the country right now. From Colorado to Minnesota, people are on blizzard watch. Blizzard watch.

Jennifer Delgado is watching the system. We want to go first to Jim Spellman in Golden, Colorado. And Jim, I believe I did spot some flakes there. The snow is now officially falling.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's just now switching from the sort of freezing rain mix to snow. You can take a look, John. It's been very warm. It was in the 60s yesterday. So, it's not sticking on the streets yet, but you come right over here and you can see we've got maybe a half an inch of snow forming on some of the other areas. Four hundred snow plows out across Colorado.

We just got word from Denver Airport, about 400 flights canceled. That will probably go up. This is expected to be an all-day snow event. And, for the first time this entire school year, school is closed in Denver and a lot of the suburban counties. So, good news for the kids. Bad news if you have to come out here and drive when the sun starts coming up in a couple of hours -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jim, by my count, we have about a quarter of an inch of accumulation so far on your hair.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: And that is continuing to develop as the morning goes on. Jim Spellman, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: Wear a hat. Moral of the story, wear a hat. All right. So, how long will this big mess last? Let's go to meteorologist, Jennifer Delgado. Good morning to you.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You're right. Jim doesn't look like he's getting a lot of snow out there, but I can tell you the snow has been coming down. Look at some of these totals. We're talking a foot of snowfall through Montana and more of that is going to be coming down through eastern parts of Colorado.

In fact, we already do have blizzard conditions reported through parts. Now, as we show you on the radar, here is that burst of snow that's moving through Colorado Springs as well as into Denver. So, your snow will come down more. It will increase. And yes, we are expecting some of these locations to pick up some good totals. We'll get to that in just a moment.

But I also want to point out to you, look what's happening there. A line of some nice storms there along with the lightning, even spreading over towards Chicago. This is going to continue throughout the morning hours. On the cold side, you see the snow coming down through parts of Nebraska as well as into South Dakota. But the snow totals, we're talking still another foot possible and some of these parts of the Dakotas.

And this is going to last as we go through the afternoon as well as into the evening as we help time this for you. Even tomorrow morning at this time, we're still talking about a wintry mix. Some very heavy rainfall. And then, the chance for some stronger storms to arrive. And we're also talking a severe weather threat today that now includes the moderate risk, right across Oklahoma City, down towards parts of Texas.

I want to point out to you, now today, slight risk includes millions of people from Kansas City all the way down to Dallas and even into parts of St. Louis. High temperatures today much warmer, guys. We are talking a lot of 80s out there. Now, look at the cold air. Denver, 21 degrees. Yesterday, they were at 65. All the warmth, you see it on the graphic in the orange and the red. BERMAN: It's here.

SAMBOLIN: We're loving it. Thank you very much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. So, CNN learned that former Rutgers athletic director, Tim Pernetti, will get more than a million dollars after stepping down in the wake of the Mike Rice video abuse scandal. Rutgers will Pernetti his annual salary of more than $450,000 through June of 2014. And next month, he's also scheduled to receive a lump sum payment of almost $680,000.

SAMBOLIN: Wow! That's incredible.

BERMAN: Pernetti also remains eligible for up to $50,000 in bonuses based on the school's academic, athletic and financial success.

SAMBOLIN: All right. New Jersey governor Chris Christie is no fan of former Rutgers coach Mike Rice's behavior in practice. Here's what Governor Christie had to say about Rice on Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Win or lose, that is completely reprehensible, unacceptable conduct. To be using homophobic slurs and to be -- having the physical contact with young men that he was having is simply unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, while Governor Chris Christie had harsh words for Coach Rice, he offered his support to Rutgers president, Robert Barchi. Christie says Barchi should not lose his job over the scandal. I wonder how everyone else feels about that?

BERMAN: Interesting. Well, they had a town meeting last night. I think they're all still talking about it at Rutgers. Very much so.

Thirty-eight minutes after the hour. A brighter side of college basketball right now. Heart pounding, stirring, exhausting.

SAMBOLIN: Passionate.

BERMAN: There are not enough words to describe last night's game. Louisville's 82-76 victory over Michigan for college basketball's national championship, it was just awesome! Look at that. The top- seeded Cardinals overcame a 12-point deficit in the first half with a dazzling array of dunks and long range bombs. Luke Hancock was just stroking it. They finally wore down the Wolverines. Kevin Ware, of course, providing inspiration from the sidelines after that horrible leg injury.

There he is cutting down the net. His Cardinal teammates, you know, just so grateful to everything that he did for them and the inspiration he gave and how about the week that Louisville coach Rick Pitino is having?

SAMBOLIN: Not bad. Not bad.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: First, forget basketball. His horse golden sense won the Santa Anita Derby to earn a spot in next month's Kentucky Derby. Then, he finds out he's been inducted to the basketball Hall of Fame. And now, he's the first coach, the very first coach in NCAA Division I history to win a national basketball championship with two different teams. Wow!

SAMBOLIN: Overachiever. Overachiever.

BERMAN: Overachiever. Exactly.

CNNs Rachel Nichols talked to a very emotional Rick Pitino after the game.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can you kind of explain the way this team came together around Kevin Ware?

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE COACH: Well, you don't know sometimes. You know, we have a lot of discipline in our program. And any time you struggle and you have to fight for things in your life, you become very close.

And the spontaneous emotion from that event today makes me as proud as any moment I've ever had in coaching, to see the love of my players for an injured player, to seat a courage of the injured player to say forget me, it's not about me, we have to win. Just as a teacher of the game, it's just the most special moment anyone could have.

NICHOLS: And they brought down the net for him so he could cut it. What was that watching him do that?

PITINO: We knew we were going to do that.

NICHOLS: So, they planned for it, because Kevin told me earlier in the week that if it took an escalator, he was getting up. He was cutting that net.

PITINO: He was. And you know, he's become a great personality. I never knew he was so funny until he went on David Letterman.

NICHOLS: Hey, you know, it's going to happen. And going forward now, you have a Hall of Fame credit to your name now. You have a horse that's going to be in the Kentucky Derby. Your son got a head coaching job at Minnesota. It hasn't been a bad week for Rick Pitino. How do you top this?

PITINO: You know, I have such a great family. We celebrate big time. We are true New Yorkers. Atlanta won't sleep. We will go out as a family. We will stay up all night. And we will celebrate. My children know how to celebrate.

NICHOLS: Excellent. I have a feeling Louisville won't sleep tomorrow either.

PITINO: No. I'm so happy for Louisville. So, we're probably going to head to the women's game.

NICHOLS: Excellent.

PITINO: And we're hoping that we can have two championships. I'm a big fan of our women. Jeff Walls (ph) and we're probably going to head to New Orleans right from not sleeping.

Let's go celebrate.

(CHANTING) Yes!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So, as you heard, Coach Pitino mentioned it's also been a heck of a week for the city of Louisville and all of its sports fans. The lady Cardinals take on Connecticut tonight in New Orleans for the Women's National Basketball Championship. If they win, Louisville will become only the second division one school in history to hold the men's and women's titles simultaneously.

And I have to give a shout out to one of our viewers, Robert Summers (ph), who said you better make sure that you root for them tonight at 8:30 p.m.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: I appreciate Robert. And thank you for watching and bring 100,000 of your friends in the demo to watch also, but, I'm a New Englander. Go Huskies. OK? There you go.

SAMBOLIN: I go for Louisville.

BERMAN: So far, President Clinton sits down with Stephen Colbert and winds up with a new Twitter account. This is hilarious.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: We'll tell you all about Billy Jeff Clinton. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 45 minutes past the hour.

With legislation apparently stalled in Washington, President Obama is digging in on gun control. The president took his message to Hartford, Connecticut yesterday, the state capital not far from the scene of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Connecticut, this is not about me. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been tore apart by gun violence.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It's about them and all the families going forward so we can prevent this from happening again! That's what it's about!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The president is now working with some of those Sandy Hook parents to fight for gun control legislation on Capitol Hill. CNN's Brianna Keilar is following that for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If he can't convince Congress to take up gun legislation, perhaps, they can. President Obama brought 12 family members of the Newtown shooting victims back to Washington with him, personally ushering them off Air Force One. Among them --

NICOLE HOCKLEY, PARENT OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: The president of the United States --

KEILAR: Nicole Hockley who lost her six-year-old son Dylan at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

NICOLE HOCKLEY, PARENT OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: Though, sometimes, the waves of sadness are so great they threaten to drown me, I stand before you now and ask you to stand with me with all the families.

KEILAR: Hockley had earlier introduced the president as he began a week-long White House push for a gun bill. Obama criticized Republican senators for trying to block a measure from coming to the Senate floor.

OBAMA: In the wake of a tragedy, you think this would not be a heavy lift. And, yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms.

KEILAR: Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is now planning to join the 13 senators who say they will filibuster a bill. Democrats are hoping to overcome the filibuster with a bipartisan compromise that would require background checks for all or almost all gun purchases. The measure has overwhelming public support but is in jeopardy in the Senate.

OBAMA: We have to tell Congress it's time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Let's make that happen.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. So, 47 minutes after the hour right now.

And former President Bill Clinton finally has a Twitter account, sort of. Last night, Stephen Colbert dedicated his entire show to an interview with Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative event. And at one point, Colbert surprised Clinton by telling him he had set up an account in his name.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Now, President Clinton was taken, William Jefferson Clinton was taken.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: But Pres. Billy Jeff was available.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Would you like to break into the 21st century right now and send your first tweet?

(CHEERING)

COLBERT: I'll type --

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're going to type it?

COLBERT: I'll type it. 140 characters or less.

CLINTON: Just spent --

COLBERT: Just spent?

CLINTON: Amazing time with Colbert.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. So, in case, you thought they were kidding, not at all. The full tweet, Just spent amazing time with Colbert. Is he sane? He is cool!" That's signed Billy Jeff Clinton or PresBillyJeff on Twitter. I know that he (ph) posted a few hours ago. "Now, that I'm no longer president, I have been downgraded to Air Force Seven." So far, Pres Billy Jeff has more than 28,000 followers.

SAMBOLIN: Is he keeping the account? BERMAN: You know, one thing is clear to me is that Clinton only seems sort of bemused by the whole thing.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: He was sort of like where is this going? I'm not totally comfortable with this.

SAMBOLIN: I wouldn't be either, especially if somebody else is now tweeting on my behalf.

BERMAN: Is your account still disabled, by the way?

SAMBOLIN: It is disabled. I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to figure it out during the break.

BERMAN: Tweet Zoraida right now @ZoraidaCNN.

SAMBOLIN: It's all messed up.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, big rig dangling over the side of a bridge. The driver still inside! The dramatic rescue above a freezing river on top of everything coming up next.

BERMAN: And if you look at the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone.

SAMBOLIN: Tweet me while you're at it.

BERMAN: Just go to CNN.com/TV.

SAMBOLIN: @ZoraidaCNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Fifty-three minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date.

New this morning, North Korea warning foreigners in South Korea to take shelter or get out should war break out between the two countries. This ominous message from state-run media follows a warning to diplomats in the capital last week that it could not guarantee their safety if a war begins.

SAMBOLIN: And a weekend cook out turned into a tragedy in Lebanon, Tennessee, when a four-year-old boy, a four-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed the wife of a sheriff's deputy. State police say Wilson County deputy, Daniel Fanning, was showing off his gun collection to a relative, and he did not see his four-year-old nephew enter the room.

The boy then took a loaded gun off a bed and it went off killing 47- year-old Josephine Fanning. No charges have been filed. BERMAN: A seventh death in three new cases of bird flu reported in China. Thousands of birds have now been slaughtered in poultry markets are closed as health officials track the source of the infection. This is the first time H7N9 has been found in humans. World Health Officials say there's no evidence right now that it could be passed person to person.

SAMBOLIN: Annette Funicello has died. She may have been the most popular Mouseketeer ever and even an original member of the 1950s "Mickey Mouse Club." She also starred in a series number of "Beach Blanket Movies." That was in the 1960s alongside Frankie Avalon. Funicello died yesterday from complications of multiple sclerosis, a disease that she battled for long time for 25 years. Annette Funicello was 70 years old.

BERMAN: I remember the skippy hats when I was growing up.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Fifty-four minutes after the hour right now.

And check out these pictures of a dramatic rescue above the frigid James River in Virginia. Firefighters plucking a terrified truck driver from the cab where (ph) big rig as it dangled over the side of the monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge. Forty-three-year-old Almeira Reibic (ph) lost control of her truck on I-664 yesterday morning and it actually caught fire for a few minutes.

SAMBOLIN: Is that her peeking out of there?

BERMAN: Oh, wow! What a picture that is. The (INAUDIBLE). The firefighters were able to use their truck's rescue bucket to bring the woman to safety.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

BERMAN: Just lucky.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Great effort.

BERMAN: So, coming up, my favorite manager, the manager -- former manager of the Red Sox but now the manager of the Indians who got lost on his way to his own game. He got lost going to his own stadium.

SAMBOLIN: This would be a problem.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: It's trending coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. So, welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Trending online this morning, welcome to Cleveland, Terry Francona. Yesterday was the Indians home opener and a funny thing happened to their new manager on the way to progressive field. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY FRANCONA, INDIANS MANAGER: I got lost three times.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANCONA: Even when I got to the garage, two people that work here say, hey, do you know where you're going? I'm like, no.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANCONA: I think Cleveland is officially like the nicest people I've ever met. I mean, everybody I did walk by was like hello and -- like everybody I walked by said hello. So, that was a little different than I'm used to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, I have to tell you, I love Terry Francona or Tito as he's called. The former Red Sox manager led the Sox to two world series which makes him the best person ever. But, the guy lives two blocks from the Indians ball park. He lives two blocks.

SAMBOLIN: I did search about this.

BERMAN: And he says he got lost three times.

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

BERMAN: The bad news for him is that the tribe was blown out by the Yankees 11-6. Maybe he knew something. Maybe he was better off staying away. He had 80 more games to find his way.

SAMBOLIN: Drop little bread crumbs next time. All right. EARLY START continues right now.