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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
North Korea Continues Threats; Anti-Missile Batteries Prepared in Japan; Two U.S. Children Kidnapped and Taken to Cuba; March Madness Ends; Rescued Hiker Speaks Out; Bill Clinton, Welcome to Twitter
Aired April 9, 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.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It's a busy Tuesday morning.
First, breaking news out of North Korea is warning foreigners to evacuate over the possibility of all-out war. That as Japan starts deploying missiles for defense. We're covering the story only in CNN camp on Seoul and Tokyo.
BERMAN: And then, as Iran announces a new nuclear effort, the U.S. unveils this. This is a laser that can shoot planes and drones out of the sky. It is a developing story. We're following it.
ROMANS: New this morning, wild weather from California wildfires to Colorado tornadoes and blizzards in the Midwest. We have live team coverage.
BERMAN: Two brothers abducted by their father, reportedly in Cuba this morning. We're going to go live to Havana with what's going to happen to them now.
ROMANS: And in case you were sleeping, Louisville is the new NCAA champ. An incredible game for a team that rallied behind an injured player that brought its coach nearly to tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE BASKETBALL COACH: The spontaneous emotion from that event today makes me as proud as any moment I've ever had in coaching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: It's Tuesday, April 9th, STARTING POINT begins right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BERMAN: And we do begin with this breaking news. North Korea telling people to evacuate the south because of the threat of war.
ROMANS: CNN ass reporters all over the story this morning. Diana Magnay is in Tokyo, but first, let's go to Jim Clancy who's live in Seoul, South Korea. Jim, what are you making this morning of these warnings and what's the response been so far?
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, from the time I saw it first delivered on North Korean television today, until I went back and read an accurate translation, it's really crafted to intimidate, to make people fearful, to sow those seeds of fear here on the peninsula and cause economic harm to South Korea.
It doesn't seem to be working out that way, though. Let me show you what the U.S. embassy is saying about all this right now. It informs citizens that despite current political tensions with North Korea, there is no specific information to suggest there are imminent threats to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea.
Now there's a part of this, you have to understand, what is the message from North Korea? The message is that it would intend to bomb innocent civilians, civilian targets, not military targets, civilians. That's why this kind of warning would have to be issued.
Did it intimidate anybody, intimidate tourists? I've got a tweet from somebody who just signed up called the "Lizard of Oz." That would be somebody from Australia saying, "Thanks for the reporting from Seoul. We are not canceling our trip this week to South Korea." And that tells the story. Back to you.
ROMANS: All right, Jim Clancy. Meantime Japan deploying missile defense systems at three locations around Tokyo. Patriot missiles in place in the central district of Ichigaya and the suburbs of Asaki and Narashino. Our coverage of the Korean crisis continues with Diana Magnay in Tokyo.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were delivered in the dead of night. Residents surround the ministry of defense where I am waking up this morning to see two patriot missile battery systems where normally there is a baseball pit.
But it's not the first time that they've seen this. Every time since 2009 that North Korea has announced it will launch a satellite the Japanese self-defense forces have deployed this patriot missile defense systems in the heart of Tokyo, and around Tokyo, whilst also moving Aegis destroyers into the sea of Japan which themselves have a sophisticated missile interception system on board.
I was talking to a security analyst who said those two systems combined, these patriots and the aegis destroyers, could have the capabilities of protecting the Japanese archipelagos from any kind of missiles that might come over or any kind of debris that might come off a missile that North Korea might test, and which might malfunction. And that is a big concern.
It's not so much that North Korea will target Japan, although it has accused the Japanese of blindly following U.S. policy and saying that it would strike U.S. military bases in Japan. Jan there are, of course, 38,000 U.S. troops positioned here. So Japan is essentially saying a low profile, but doing what it must, which is protect its citizens, whatever it is that the young leader of North Korea chooses to do.
Diana Magnay, CNN, Tokyo.
BERMAN: It is something to see Diana literally standing in front of a patriot battery in Tokyo.
There is another developing story we're following this morning. Iran announcing its opening a new uranium enrichment plant and mining facility. This comes just hours after the U.S. Navy demonstrated a new laser weapon that it's deploying in the Persian Gulf that can blind or destroy aerial weapons like drones and planes. CNN's Chris Lawrence is live at the Pentagon for us. Chris, this sounds like something out of Star Wars.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It does, John. This is a beam of light that really is no bigger than this dime, and for the first time it's going to be deployed on board a Navy ship. It is connected to Iran but not quite in the way you might think. This laser is going on board the USS Ponce which is sort of a floating platform that patrols the Persian Gulf. It has a lot of issues out there with Iran's fast attack boat and that is what this laser has been tested on. Shooting down not only drone, but you see in the video right here, but also the very fast small boats that can lug around some of the larger ships.
The advantages to this laser? About a dollar a shot. And if the ship's got electricity you never run out of ammunition. Got a couple disadvantages. It can't take out fighter jets, can't knock down a missile. But again, the Navy is looking for some cost savings, and with Russia and China investing very heavily in this technology, they think this is the time to put it on board a ship. John?
BERMAN: Chris Lawrence, thanks so much. A dollar a shot compared to more than a million dollars a pop for some missiles they use.
ROMANS: Happening now, while we enjoy warm spring-like weather in the northeast, in the Atlantic coast you're looking at Washington, D.C. live there right now.
ROMANS: Out west it's quite a different story. Wild weather has the region in turmoil this morning. Look at this. Hail pelted parts of Kansas. This was the scene in northern Colorado. Tornadoes in Colorado leaving a trail of damage and rattled nerves. Jennifer Delgado is monitoring the storm in the severe weather center and our Jim Spellman is in Colorado. Jim, let's start with you. Let it snow, let it snow.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it says spring on the calendar but it sure feels like winter. Here in golden, Colorado, and the outskirts of Denver now covered with snow. We know that they have about 400 snow plows ready to keep these roads clear. Schools are closed for the first time this school year, an April snow day. About 300 flights canceled out of Denver International Airport. That's bound to go up. And the snow is starting to pile up, about two inches at this point. And it's really coming down fast. They say this is going to be an all-day snow event here. People at home with their kids. They're going to be bundling up, staying warm, while people are driving those plows out keeping everyone safe.
ROMANS: An April snow day, a snow day around tax time.
BERMAN: Where is it headed next? Jennifer Delgado tracking the storm for us at the weather center.
JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi there, guys. We are tracking that snow. And it's moving more northerly, as we've gone through the last couple hours. You can see the snow from anywhere from Denver all the way up towards South Dakota. And we're also talking a wintry mix. This is going to be very tricky travel conditions for areas right along southern parts of South Dakota, as well as in the northwestern part of Minnesota. We're talking sleet as well as freezing rain.
But back to the snow, big snow for April. We're talking nearly a foot in some of these parts. You can see the winter storm warnings in place. And we still have blizzard warnings in place, and that's because we're expecting wind gusts up to 40 to 50 miles per hour. That will drop down visibility. We won't be able to see it. So if you don't have to go on the road, don't do it. It means you can stay at home with the kids and their snow days.
Severe weather is going to be our big concern as we go later into the afternoon and evening. Anywhere you see in this orange shading moving through Oklahoma down towards Texas, this is our first moderate threat for severe weather for the season. And that means we do have a possibility we could see some tornadoes out there. But even in the yellow area, that's the slight risk, and that is going to affect millions of people today.
Now keep in mind, typically, you see on average about 155 tornadoes, for the month of April. The severe weather threat continues for Wednesday, as well as into Thursday and more big cities. It is very active out there, warm in the south, with temperatures in the 80s for the afternoon highs. Back over to you two.
BERMAN: We'll take that temperatures in the 80s. Jennifer Delgado, thanks so much. There is crazy weather out there. New this morning, hundreds of people evacuated from their homes as strong, gusty winds fueled brushfire just north of Los Angeles. This was sparked by downed power lines. So far it's burned about 170 acres and damaged two structures, about 400 firefighters right now trying to get things under control. No injuries have been reported so far.
ROMANS: New developments this morning in the case of those two little Florida boys we told you about yesterday kidnapped by their father, and taken to sea. Now law enforcement officials in Tampa say they've received information that two-year-old Chase Hakken and four-year-old Cole are in Cuba this morning.
BERMAN: They were allegedly abducted from their grandparents' home by their father, Joshua, last week. It is believed he took them and his wife by sailboat to Cuba. The newspaper in Miami reporting they are all in custody of the Cuban immigration officials right now. We've got this story covered from all angles this morning. Victor Blackwell is live in Tampa. But we're going to begin in Havana with Patrick Oppmann. What's the latest in Cuba?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Christine. And law enforcement authorities say they believe the Hakken family is in Cuba. U.S. diplomatic officials have said that they've asked the Cuban authorities to cooperate. But you talk with Cuban authorities here and they say they've received no such request. The kind of diplomatic dysfunction is all too characteristic of the U.S.-Cuba relationship. Where for years both countries have simply ignored one another's requests to extradite people. There are dozens of American fugitives here, mainly people who've been charged with being involved with politically violent.
But Cuba, really when it comes to Cuba politics is always involved here. We're waiting to see if Cuba says they have this family. What the next step is. Cuba typically does not extradite fugitives back to the United States. And this is one thing Christine where the long arm of American justice simply does not reach.
All right, thanks Patrick in Havana this morning.
ROMANS: Let's get to Victor Blackwell standing by for us live in Tampa, Florida. That's where the boys were living. Victor, what are police saying?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, it was the local sheriff's department here in Tampa, the Hillsboro County sheriff's office, that first announced that connection to Cuba. Saying they'd received information that the Hakken family had arrived in Cuba. They would not elaborate.
Now, it was five days ago when we're told by authorities that Joshua Hakken broke into his mother-in-law's home, his children's grandmother, tied her up, and took the children, and then set off in her car. That car was found, his truck was, as well, and that boat, we're told, as we're reporting this morning, from the sheriff's office, in Cuba.
Now, why weren't the children with the parents in the first place? For that answer we've got to go back to June of 2012 when in Slidell, Louisiana, police say that the Hakken parents, Joshua and Sharon Hakken, and their boys Chase and Cole were in a hotel room. But also there were drugs, alcohol, guns, and they say the parents were erratic, saying that they were on their journey to Armageddon, journey to the end. And the children were taken away.
There are charges that are filed in Slidell, in Hammond, associated with allegedly Joshua Hakken going to the foster home with a gun trying to take his children, and now a list of growing charges here in Tampa, cruelty against children, kidnapping, false imprisonment. So if they are extradited back to the U.S., that list is growing. We hope to find out today if charges will also be filed against the boy's mother, Sharon Hakken. Christine?
ROMANS: All right, Victor Blackwell, thanks live for us this morning in Tampa. In about 17 minutes we're going to hear from Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen about this case.
BERMAN: It's 11 minutes after the hour right now. And many of you have probably been up all night after watching an incredible game. Louisville Cardinals, national champs after a rim-rocking, heart- pounding, 82-76 victory last night over Michigan. This is just an incredible game. In the end there were a lot of great players, but there may have been one player who never set foot on the court last night who made the difference in the title game. Our Joe Carter live from the Georgia dome in Atlanta this morning. Good morning, Joe.
JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What a game. So thrilling John, 75,000 behind me rocking throughout the entire game. First half was incredible, an unlikely story for an unlikely freshman. Michigan got a game out of a guy named spike, it was incredible. Of course you've got Kevin Ware and the great story line and Spike Albrecht, a freshman who scored basically averaged one point a game all season scored 17 points gave Michigan a big first half lead but then Luke Hancock the MVP brought Louisville back and they did as they've done all season closed the game.
Coach Rick Pitino the first coach in college basketball history to win a championship with two different schools spoke with our Rachel Nichols after the win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was there a moment as the clock is ticking down that it hit you, we're going to win this game, we're going to be national champions?
RICK PITINO, COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH: I was trying to find the clock. When it was 16 seconds I knew it. And then for the first moment, because when we prepared for after North Carolina for Colorado State I knew it could end with them. They were that good. Then I knew it could end with Oregon. Then I knew it could end with Duke. We were playing so many great teams, so many great coaches. But this is a special group of young men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Obviously, congratulations to Louisville and the champions last night. But John you got to tip your hat to Michigan. They played a great game. They are the youngest team in the field of 68 in the tournament this year. So they certainly have a bright future, John.
BERMAN: There are so many images from last night that are just seared in my head. First you have Spike Albrecht hitting three after three after three. Then you have Luke Hancock hitting all those threes. But it may have been a moment after the game that really provided the most indelible image. That was just Kevin Ware. CARTER: Yes you said it, John. Obviously millions watched as he broke his leg last week against Duke. We followed him on twitter. We followed him on Facebook. We followed him through the media this week and for them to lower the basketball rim down for him last night so he was able to cut down the net was an incredible moment. He spoke with our Rachel Nichols afterwards. He wakes up today a champion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN WARE, COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER: It was all worth it. This is a great, great game. And I really enjoyed every moment of it.
NICHOLS: 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. Honestly that's what's getting me through right now. I just want to say thank you to everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Of course the party continues for Louisville as the women will play UConn tonight for the championship. John, real quick, you know we talked a lot about the fab five and the 20-year anniversary for Michigan last night. All five of that team's five members of the fab five were in attendance last night. Four of them sat together. We saw some short video of Chris Webber walking in. But just an incredible story. What a great way to end the season obviously college basketball, they got it right.
BERMAN: They sure did. The two best teams certainly faced off last night. Joe Carter, thanks so much.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, hallucinations, wild animals, and dirt. A teenage girl explains how she survived five days lost in a California canyon. And then, meet Prez Billy Jeff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Now President Clinton was taken. William Jefferson Clinton was taken. But Prez Billy Jeff was available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Comedian Stephen Colbert brings president Clinton near the 21st century. The hilarious exchange coming up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. New this morning, we are learning Queen Elizabeth will attend funeral services of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It will be held next Wednesday at London's St. Paul's cathedral. The Iron Lady died yesterday. She was 87 years old. And new this morning from Serbia, at least 13 people, including a child, killed in a shooting rampage right outside Belgrade. Police officials say a man went into five different houses, and started firing. Other media reports say he killed his own son and tried to kill himself and his wife. They're reported in serious condition right now and there's no word about a motive there.
And we're hearing now from the second of two hikers who survived after being lost in the southern California wilderness for days. 18-year- old Kyndall Jack is telling her story, at least the part she says she remembers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYNDALL JACK, RESCUED HIKER: I only remember the first night and the last thing I remember the first night was fighting off some animal with Nick. And then I just remember the last day scooting down a little hill -- actually, it wasn't really little. It was actually like a cliff. And then just resting on my little rock for the rest of the time being. I know I ate dirt, tried to eat dirt and rocks and I came to the hospital with a big mouthful of dirt. That's all I remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Wow. Both teenagers were dehydrated when found in separate locations a day part. Jack also suffered a hand injury and scrapes and bruises.
And CNN has learned that former Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti will get more than $1 million after stepping down over the Mike Rice video scandal. Rutgers will pay Pernetti his annual salary of more than $450,000 through June of 2014. Next month he is scheduled to receive a lump sum payment of almost $680,000. And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no fan of Mike Rice's behavior. He says win or lose there's no place for that kind of behavior from a college coach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R ) NEW JERSEY: What parent would let this animal back in to their living room to try to recruit their son? After this video?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: So you heard governor Christie had harsh words for Coach Rice. But he offered his support to Rutgers President Robert Barchi. Christie says Barchi should not lose his job over this scandal. A lot of people would disagree with that.
BERMAN: Will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Twenty-one minutes after the hour. So Bill Clinton, welcome to the twitterverse. During an interview with Stephen Colbert the former president was surprised to learn that the comedian and talk show host had set up an account, a Twitter account, in his name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: Now President Clinton was taken. William Jefferson Clinton was taken. But Prez Billy Jeff was available. Would you like to break into the 21st century right now and send your first tweet? I'll type it.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll type it?
COLBERT: I'll type it. 120 characters or less.
CLINTON: Just spent --
COLBERT: Just spent --
CLINTON: Amazing time with Colbert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Bill Clinton's face really tells the whole story there.
ROMANS: The funniest part of it is Bill Clinton on any subject in less than 140 characters or less. He was someone known to hold forth on policy for much longer than 140 characters.
BERMAN: It is hard to imagine. But in case you thought they were kidding, this is a full tweet. It says "just spent amazing time with Colbert. Is he sane? He is cool. #cgiu." Clinton has since tweeted this, now that I'm no longer president I've been downgraded to Air Force seven. As of this morning Prez Billy Jeff has more than 29,000 followers.
ROMANS: And I think it's pretty clear that whatever that next tweet was it was actually Colbert pretending to be president Bill Clinton.
BERMAN: I would think. All right, 22 minutes after the house. Coming up, no more "American Idol" for some?
ROMANS: That's right, next on STARTING POINT. Fox threatening to go off the broadcast air. When they're making the threat and what it really means for your -- for viewers. You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: Welcome back. It's early but we're on track for a modestly higher start for stocks. Major averages are watching shares of Alcoa. Slightly higher ahead of the open. The aluminum maker reported better than expected profits, but sales were lower - hurt by lower prices for raw aluminum.
A stunning corporate flameout. JCPenney has fired its CEO Ron Johnson after 15 months, and one massive misunderstanding of Penney customers. Penney is not Apple and this Apple veteran learned the hard way. He did away with sales and coupons, he redesigned the store, gave it a new logo, but customers did not get it. Sales fell 28 percent last year, including a whopping 40 percent drop during the holiday season. Push the reset button is what the company did, bringing in the old CEO Mike Ullman and Wall Street wasn't happy with that choice, either. Penney shares set to drop this morning.
Fox and Univision set to go off the broadcast spectrum and become cable-only channels. It's a response to an appeals court ruling last week that upheld the legality of Aereo, a company that makes a small antenna you can plug into a smartphone or tablet and watch broadcast TV channels. Aereo also jeopardizes the network's ability to demand higher retransmission fees from cable companies. It could be an empty threat from the networks. An estimated 10 million viewers still get their TV over the air.
BERMAN: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on STARTING POINT, President Obama's emotional appeal for gun control laws.
ROMANS: Plus an aviation first. Officials finding evidence of texting while flying in a deadly chopper crash.
BERMAN: And no, no Cookie Monster. A Times Square favorite ends up behind bars. We're going to have the details ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT.