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Dire Warning from North Korea; Hakken Children Abducted to Cuba; Severe Weather Out West; From Crude to Sued; Colbert Helps Bill Clinton Set Up Twitter Account

Aired April 9, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, preparing for war. North Korea telling the South to evacuate foreigners. And now, nearby countries with missile launchers on the move.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: We have a tale of two seasons. Winter storm warnings in the Plains, while spring temperatures could crack 80 degrees in the east. You know what those are?

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. Good morning to you. Look how lovely you look this morning.

BERMAN: And the Louisville Cardinals, the champions of college basketball on top of the world. Their victory over Michigan so emotional it brought coach Rick Pitino to tears. And, man, what a week that guy is having.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us. It is Tuesday, April 9th, 31 minutes past the hour.

And this morning, North Korea is sounding more and more like it is ready for war. It is warning South Korea to prepare to evacuate foreigners. The increasingly hostile rhetoric has Japan deploying Patriot missiles at three locations. They're forming a protective ring around Tokyo.

Jim Clancy is in Seoul, South Korea, with the very latest developments.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Shut it down. That was the message from North Korea on Kaesong, the industrial park that is the very symbol of cooperation that still survives between North and South. But it was interesting that the North Koreans hedged their announcement saying that they were temporarily suspending the manufacturing operations at that facility. And they were going to withdraw their 53,000 workers.

But tonight, we know that they have not yet pulled out those workers. And so, the almost 500 South Koreans are still inside the facility, as well. But it could come at any moment.

Now, North Korea blames Seoul and Washington for its actions, saying that they were fomenting war on the Korean peninsula, and that they had insulted the dignity of the North Koreans by saying that one way or another, Kim Jong Un's regime needed the cash flow, the hard currency from Kaesong, in order to fund the regime and keep it afloat.

Still, when they shut this down, if they lose those 53,000 jobs, some think it may make the larger community living in Kaesong, in the northern side of the DMZ, a bit unhappy with the North's decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talk about the low wages at Kaesong. But actually considering the alternatives, it's a good job. It's desirable.

And this source of hard currency, the investment that's flowing in there, the wages that are going in there, it's raised the standard of living in Kaesong and if this is suddenly shut down this is going to have an impact. And I think the people in Kaesong will not be very happy about it.

CLANCY: Thirteen of the 123 companies were manufacturing there at Kaesong have shut down operations because they ran out of goods to process.

Now, if the facility is shut all the way down, it's going to hurt South Korean businesses, but really would only be a ripple in South Korea's economy, which is, in fact, the fourth largest in Asia. For the North Koreans, it would be the loss of those jobs, and a steady, dependable flow of hard currency.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Seoul.


BERMAN: Dramatic new developments overnight. Two little boys from Florida allegedly abducted from their grandparents' home by their father last week, reportedly safe in Cuba this morning, along with their parents. Two-year-old Chase Hakken and his brother, 4-year-old Cole, are in the custody of Cuban immigration officials right now. That's according to the Spanish version of "The Miami Herald". It's believed their father Joshua took them and his wife to the nation by sailboat.

The children were taken away from the couple last year and their parental rights were terminated last week by the state of Louisiana.

SAMBOLIN: Well, it may be spring, but happening right now, a blizzard is hammering a large part of the west from Utah to the Dakotas. Take a look at this -- fierce winds, freezing temperatures, snow, and look at this, hail, pelting parts of Kansas. In northern Colorado, tornadoes touching down, wreaking havoc, and rattling a lot of nerves, as well.

Jennifer Delgado will give us the bad news of how long this will last in a minute. But, first, let's go to Jim Spellman. He is right in the middle of it in Golden, Colorado.

BERMAN: Look at the hair.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. You are accumulating some snow on your head.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a fire in the furnace, guys. This is Golden, Colorado, right in the foothills. You can see the snow coming down here. It was in the 60s yesterday. But the ground is still warm, not sticking so much on the streets.

But they don't want to take any chances. They've got 400 snow plows here in Colorado ready to go. We just got word from the airport about 300 flights canceled. We know that's going to go up as the day goes on. This is going to be a day long snow event.

Good news for the kids, though, first snow day of the year in April. So spring on the calendar but it sure feels like winter here in Colorado.

SAMBOLIN: I know the kids are going to be happy. I don't know about the parents with all those kids at home.

Jim Spellman live for us -- thank you.

BERMAN: With the fire in the furnace.

All right. Jennifer Delgado in Atlanta, who is going to get the worst of this storm?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think right now, Jim Spellman's getting the worst of it in his hair right now.


SAMBOLIN: Good point.

DELGADO: It's growing by the hour.

And on the radar the snow is coming down, and, yes, it's coming down through areas like Colorado Springs as well as into Denver. But more even up towards the North.

And we're also looking at that wintry mix. We're talking freezing rain as well as sleet. Anywhere in pink, Sioux Falls into central parts of Nebraska, that's where the weather mixes. The snow coming down pretty good through parts of South Dakota and then a line of showers and thunderstorms moving into areas like Chicago, that's all being fueled by the low level jet moving through Wisconsin as well as into Minnesota.

Now, what we're dealing with right now. Winter storm warnings out there, watches, and of course some blizzard warnings still in place for Colorado, as well as into Utah. Those are going to stay in place looks like through this evening, tomorrow. We'll see some wind gusts up to about 50 miles per hour, reducing visibility. And then when you add in about a foot of snow in some of these locations, it is going to be tricky out there traveling. So make sure you're checking ahead if you're going to be flying out.

Now, as we go through today, as well as tomorrow, we'll still be tracking this storm system. But we're also going to add in severe weather to the threat. Today, as well as tomorrow, and now even Thursday, but for today we do have our first moderate risk. Anywhere where you're seeing in purple through parts of Kansas, as well as into parts of Oklahoma, we are going to see the chance for the possibility of some tornadoes out there.

And this is all being fueled by the clash of the two air masses. Look at this pocket of cool air.

Jim Spellman, 21 degrees there, the 80s to the South and the East. It's that boundary causing all this bad weather out there. Let's send it back over to you.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much. It is a mess out there. It's crazy.

SAMBOLIN: All right. College hoop fans still trying to catch their breath this morning after Louisville's heart-pounding, rim-rocking 82- 76 victory over Michigan last night in college basketball's national championship.

BERMAN: It was a war.

SAMBOLIN: The top seeded cardinals shrugging off a 12-point deficit in the first half with a stunning array, a thundering dunk, the NBA- style three pointers to finally wear down.

BERMAN: Look at this. The Wolverines.


And the injured Kevin Ware providing all the inspiration the Cardinals needed following his devastating leg injury. His teammates bringing the rim down to him so that he could cut the net, as you saw there right after the game.

BERMAN: Such an incredible moment. Such an incredible game. Wow. Congratulations to Louisville.

Thirty-eight minutes after the hour right now. So, this might be the last thing you'd expect to see at Gabby Giffords' house. Look at this. Target practice.

We're giving you a sneak peek at a CNN exclusive, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT." CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, you guys. Well, right now, we're starting with North Korea, warning foreigners in South Korea to take shelter or evacuate over the possibility of all-out war. Is this a sign they plan to take action? We're live in Seoul, top of the hour.

Then, those two little boys, brothers, abducted by their father. They're reportedly in Cuba this morning, and there are reports they're in the custody now of Cuban officials. Could there be extradition issues between the U.S. and the island nation when will those little boys come home? We're getting reaction from Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Peter King.

Plus, two candidates vying to become mayor in a cash-strapped small town. The catch? That's the mom. That's the son. They're running against each other.


ROMANS: We're talking with the mom about this unusual race and what that means around the dinner table.

And we told you about this brave 7-year-old boy battling brain cancer. He got to experience one of his dreams. We're going to meet Jack Hoffman (ph). We're going to talk to him. He scored the touchdown of the lifetime.

That is one little Husker fans. And I'm telling you, Husker fans love this kid almost as much --


SAMBOLIN: I think the whole world love this little kid. He's adorable.

ROMANS: I know.

BERMAN: So excited to meet him, coming up. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, can't wait.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-two minutes after the hour right now.

It's been more than two years since former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and nearly killed by a crazed gunman in Tucson. Today, brain injuries do make speaking difficult, yet Giffords has become a spokeswoman for new restrictions on guns. But she hasn't lost her appreciating for gun culture.

Dana Bash spent some time with Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly at their home in Arizona and got really amazing, exclusive behind-the- scenes access.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Target practice is a form of entertainment at Giffords' mother's house, deep in the Arizona desert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch, he's aiming for my pot. Whoa.

BASH: Husband Mark Kelly using planting pots and water bottles as targets, while Giffords watches from the patio with her mother, cheering him on.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excellent! Excellent!

BASH: Kelly isn't shooting with just any kind of gun.

MARK KELLY, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' HUSBAND: This is the same kind of gun Gabby was shot with, a Glock, a 9 millimeter Glock. But in that case, it had a magazine that held 33 rounds. This when it's full holds 17.

He shot 33 rounds. Every round hit somebody, we think.

BASH (on camera): How long have you had this gun?

KELLY: Well, I gave this to Gabby as a gift.

BASH: When?

KELLY: A number of years ago.

She's a gun owner. You know, she's from the West.

BASH (voice-over): Still, we asked the question a lot of incredulous people seeing this scene would ask.

(on camera): Really? This guy sort of still has -- gets his kicks or recreation for him is shooting a gun, after his wife was shot through the head?

KELLY: Well, Gabby used to like shooting a gun, too, occasionally.

GIFFORDS: Yes, yes.


BERMAN: Really an interesting interview.

Giffords and Kelly argue, because they appreciate and understand the gun culture, they have more credibility in their fight to expand background checks for private gun sales.

Dana Bash is going to have more on that on Giffords recovery and bone- chilling experience of coming face-to-face with her shooter. That is tonight on "A.C. 360."

SAMBOLIN: Forty-four minutes past the hour. Now, to this week's "Road Warriors" report. We've all been there before, standing in a long line, trying to board a flight and get to your seat when someone in front of you takes ten agonizing minutes trying to squeeze that oversized piece of luggage into an overhead bin. I just experienced it, and I was getting very angry about it.

BERMAN: Guess you were. And now, American Airlines is testing a system that allows passengers without carry-on bags to board first. That's interesting. It's testing now in Austin, Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, and in Dallas Washington Airport. And if your bag fits under the seat in front of you, you can board before everyone else. But elite frequent flyers and passengers in higher class, well, they still get to board before you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. American is not the first to try this. Alaska and Frontier already give boarding priority to customers without carry-ons, and it makes a lot of economic sense. Airlines collected over a billion dollars in baggage fees in the last quarter 2012 alone, and they're losing money when planes sit on the ground. If more people check their bags, revenues go up and the boarding process moves a lot faster.

BERMAN: So, American stresses for now this is just a test.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, they're probably still partying somewhere in -- everywhere in Louisville.

BERMAN: I say definitely.

SAMBOLIN: Check out the fans who took to the streets after last night's victory coming up. We'll hear from Coach Pitino, Kevin Ware, and the game's MVP.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. People in the Arkansas neighborhood where thousands of barrels of crude oil gurgled up from a gush pipeline are now suing Exxon Mobil. Their class action suit demands more than $5 million. More than 20 people still can't go home. Exxon has said it is paying for the clean-up and will honor legitimate claims.

SAMBOLIN: And check out these pictures of a dramatic rescue above the frigid James River. This is Virginia. Firefighters plucking a terrified truck driver from the cab of her big rig. It dangled over the side of the monitor Merrimack Memorial Bridge. Forty-three-year- old Amira Revik (ph) lost control of her truck on I-664 yesterday morning. It actually caught fire for a few minutes after jumping the embankment.

Firefighters were able, as you see there, to use their truck's rescue bucket to bring that woman finally to safety.

BERMAN: Amazing pictures.

So, Louisville Cardinals waking up or staying up as the case may be. The NCAA men's basketball champions were crowned last night as the Louisville Cardinals beat the Michigan Wolverines. This game was a nail biter. Vince Cellini here with more in today's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Vince.

VINCE CELLINI, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, John. You know, after some ho- hum moments in the tournament, this game wasn't just great. It was mesmerizing. Forty minutes of basket to basket drama and unlikely heroes in Louisville's historic championship win. One of those heroes didn't even play. We're talking about Kevin Ware making his way to the floor on that shattered right leg inspiration.

Michigan racing out in front behind freshman, Spike Albercht, the Baby Face Assassin, he blew up Twitter and the Georgia dome, 17 in the first half. Louisville countered with the bearded one, Luke Hancock, who came off the bench, scored 14 consecutive points and rallied the cardinals. Hancock, 5 of 5 from three-point range, 22 points, and Louisville and Rick Pitino on an historic win.

And, in a stirring post-game moment, Kevin Ware did, indeed, help cut down the nets. He spoke with CNN's Rachel Nichols.


KEVIN WARE, BASKETBALL PLAYER: It was all worth it. This is a great, great game and I really enjoyed every moment of it.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the reception you got from everyone around the country and the fans tonight?

WARE: It was big. The support has really been keeping me in my good spirits. And honestly, that's what's getting me through right now. So, I want to just say thank you to everybody.


CELLINI: As for Rick Pitino, what a day. Officially named to the basketball hall of fame Monday and then he becomes the first coach to lead two different schools to the NCAA championship. Another rally for the top seed overall in the tournament.


RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH: Can't tell you how proud I am of the guys, of the moment. Sixteen straight games from a five overtime sharing a regular big east championship since last year, a tournament championship at Madison Square Garden, and then a run to the national championship.

It's just for us, been an incredible run with just the most wonderful young men I've had the pleasure to be around. So proud of them.


CELLINI: And what about the path to glory for the tournament most outstanding player, Luke Hancock? He's a George Mason transfer and had the game of his life. Five of six from the field, 22 points, three assists, two steals, and talked about it in post-game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LUKE HANCOCK, NCAA TOURNEY MVP: It's just an unbelievable feeling. I'm so happy for our team. You know, those guys have worked so hard. You know, especially Kevin Ware not being able to play. We're happy for him. But, you know, there's so many people that went in to us -- and I'm just happy for everybody.


CELLINI: The school isn't finished yet. Word is Rick Pitino is making his way to New Orleans to support the Louisville women's team in the championship game Tuesday against Connecticut. UConn is shooting for an eighth consecutive NCAA title. The Cardinals seeking an upset and a clean basketball sweep for the school. CNN got preview of the game at

And that's it for now. John, I can see you with that look --

SAMBOLIN: I was just talking about that.

BERMAN: Look, if I can hit threes like Luke Hancock, I'd grow anything.


BERMAN: That's all I can say.

CELLINI: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Thanks so much. Vince Cellini, great to see you.


SAMBOLIN: All right.

BERMAN: It is 53 minutes after the hour right now. Former President Bill Clinton, he finally has a Twitter account, sort of. Last night, Stephen Colbert dedicated his entire show to an interview with Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiative event. At one point, he surprised Clinton by telling him he'd set up an account in his name.


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


COLBERT: But Pres. Billy Jeff was available.



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


COLBERT: I'll type --


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

CLINTON: Just spent --

COLBERT: Just spent?

CLINTON: Amazing time with Colbert.



BERMAN: Like deep concern on Bill Clinton's face there. He is not, at all, sure about this Twitter thing. And in case you thought they were kidding, here was the full tweet. "Just spent amazing time with Colbert. Is he sane? He is cool. Billy Jeff Clinton."


BERMAN: So, another tweet posted a few hours ago says, "Now that I'm no longer president, I've been downgraded to air force seven." Most of them with the hashtag not Colbert pretending to be me. So far, PresBillyJeff has more than 29,000 followers.

SAMBOLIN: All right. EARLY START back right after the break.


SAMBOLIN: Well, that's it for EARLY START. Thanks for joining us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. STARTING POINT begins right now.