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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Preparing for War?; Interview with Congressman Peter King of New York; West Braces for Blizzard; Hakken Brothers Abducted to Cuba?; Louisville Outlasts Michigan; Outrage Over Controversial Song

Aired April 9, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is a busy morning here. First, a dire warning from North Korea telling foreigners to evacuate ahead of a possible all-out war in the Korean Peninsula.

ROMANS: New this morning, wild fires in California, tornadoes in Colorado, blizzards in the Midwest, we got live team coverage of all this wild spring weather.

BERMAN: Two brothers allegedly kidnapped by their father, reportedly turning up in Cuba of all places this morning. What will happen to them? We're going to live in Havana coming up.

ROMANS: Louisville, the king of college basketball, an incredible game, incredible team that brought an emotional reaction from their coach.

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RICK PITINO, HEAD COACH, LOUISVILLE: The spontaneous emotion from that event today makes me as proud as any moment I have ever had in coaching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It's Tuesday, April 9th, STARTING POINT begins right now.

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ROMANS: All right. This morning, North Korea sounding more and more like it's ready for war. It's warning South Korea to prepare to evacuate foreigners.

BERMAN: The increasingly hostile rhetoric has Japan deploying Patriot missiles at three locations, forming really a protective ring around Tokyo.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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 very 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.

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BERMAN: Let's talk more about the increasingly tense situation with Congressman Peter King. He's a Republican from New York. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee and the Homeland Security Committee.

And, Congressman King, you know, you heard the warnings -- warning foreigners in South Korea to get out. The North says there's a threat of all-out war.

Do you think Americans in Seoul, in South Korea should be concerned about this? And how do you think the U.S. should respond to these provocations at this point?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: First of all, I would suggest that Americans in South Korea listen to the American embassy. They have a much better feel and much better read as to what's happening.

But overall, yes, I think this is a serious situation. Certainly, we have to say it seriously. Kim Jong Un is moving, and certainly, he is speaking very aggressively. And he's taking actions such as moving missiles. He's also into the armistice between the North and South. He's closed down industrial park. All of those are really unprecedented to the extent that he's doing it.

And my concern is that unlike his father, who knew when to pull back, Kim Jong Un may not know how to get back.

And also, we have a South Korean president, President Park, and I can't criticize her for this, she says she will retaliate if there is action taken by the North against the South. So, this is a serious situation. No need to panic at all.

And I give the administration credit for moving the B-2s, B-52s, the F-22s, the anti-missile batteries to South Korea and to the Pacific.

But, again, the fact that Japan is now setting up the anti-missile batteries, there's also shows how seriously Japan is taking this.

BERMAN: If I'm hearing you correctly, it sounds like the new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his temperament makes you a little nervous?

KING: Yes, it has to. First of all, basically North Korea is an organized crime family which is not a government. It's an organized crime family running an area, running a territory. It's not even a real country as far -- you know, in comparison to other countries around the world.

And he obviously has some stability problems, and as his father did too. But his father knew when to pull back. And we don't know -- he's 28, 29, 30 years old. We're not even sure of his age and he has nuclear weapons and he's taking more and more, you know, bellicose actions and becoming much more outspoken. And not just outspoken, he's actually -- you know, the fact that he's moving missiles.

ROMANS: Yes.

KING: The fact he has closed out the industrial park. That he's severing whatever remaining connections with South Korea. This is all serious and it's hard to see how he's going to come back from this, how he's going to pull back.

So, again, we have to take him seriously. We have to assume the worst if you will, but at the same time, not panic and not be overly provocative.

ROMANS: Which seems exactly like what the Japanese are doing, they are moving to defend themselves, but everyone cautious but wants this -- definitely wants a day where we don't have an escalation to the rhetoric.

Let me switch gears to American politics for a moment here.

KING: Sure.

ROMANS: Some of your colleagues, Congressman, in the Senate, some of your Republican colleagues, are threatening to filibuster any gun control legislation, even background check legislation.

What do you think about that? What would you say to your colleagues in the Senate?

KING: I would say it's wrong. I believe we should have universal background checks. But even if I did not support that legislation, I would say let this come to a debate.

This is an issue that's grabbed hold of the American people. It's an issue I think has to be resolved. And even if it doesn't go down the way I want it to, I think the American people are entitled to a debate and to me, to use Senate rules to block a debate on an issue of this important is just wrong.

It's not like something is trying to be snuck through here. This is something that warrants a full and open debate on universal background checks. I support them, but even if I didn't, I would certainly support having a debate.

Stifling debate, to cut it off, almost makes it as if these senators are afraid of something. I don't know what they are afraid of. So, I don't know what they're afraid of. If they are so sure of their position, let it come to a debate.

ROMANS: All right. Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, thank you, sir. Have a nice morning.

BERMAN: Six minutes after the hour right now.

And happening right now, warm, spring-like weather on the East Coast. This is just a gorgeous shot f the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. Lots of cherry blossoms in Washington right now.

Nothing however pretty about what's happening out West. Take a look at this. Hail, pelting parts of Kansas. And more wild weather has millions from Utah to Minnesota bracing for heavy snow and gusty winds.

ROMANS: In Colorado, tornadoes living a trail of damage and frayed nerves.

We've got the storm covered from all sides. Jennifer Delgado is in the severe weather center. And our Jim Spellman is live in Colorado. Jim, let's start with you. How much snow are we talking about out there today?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be a foot of snow here in the Denver area. It's been coming down maybe 2 1/2 hours. You can see already the streets are coated. Plows have been by three times, as soon as they go by. It's covered again in snow.

I'd say we have about 2 1/2, three inches at this point. Yesterday, in the evening when this storm system came through, the temperature dropped 30, 35 degrees in about an hour or two. It kicked off tornadoes. The town of Akron, Colorado, at least two tornadoes spotted there, several mobile homes damage and half of that town lost its power as we went through this dramatic shift.

Plows are out on the roads, about 300 flights canceled. Schools closed. But there is a silver lining here. We really need the water. Had drought conditions for a long time in Colorado. If you recall last year, the terrible wildfire season. Every inch of snow we get in the spring helps put off fires and create better conditions and hopefully less fires come in the summer -- Christine, John.

ROMANS: All right, Jim Spellman, thanks.

Now, how bad will the system get? That's Jennifer Delgado's job. She's tracking it for us. Hi there.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I got a bad job today. We are tracking the snow as well as wintry mix, and showers and thunderstorms.

Looking at the radar right now, and snow still coming down in Denver and areas just to the North, but heavier snowfall through parts of South Dakota, a real mess in the Southern part of that region as well into the northwest part of Minnesota, we are dealing with freezing rain, as well as a bit of sleet mixing through and showers and thunderstorms. A line of it making its way to Chicago. In fact, Chicago right now is dealing with visibility due to fog.

But back to more on the snow, we're talking some of these areas are going to will pick up a foot of snowfall. So, anywhere in purple, that is going to be the story today. When you add in the winds, visibility is going to be pretty much zero in some of these parts.

Now, we're also tracking severe weather for today. We have our first moderate risk for parts of Oklahoma, as well as into Texas. That means we are going to see the potential for some tornadoes to possibly pop up today and we're also talking areas from St. Louis down into southern parts of Texas where that flight risk as well.

It's going to get really active today and hot over the east as well as the Southeast. Back over to you two.

ROMANS: All right. Jennifer Delgado -- thank you, Jennifer.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Two missing Florida brothers reportedly turning up in Cuba this morning after allegedly being abducted last week by their own father. According to a Miami newspaper, 2-year-old Chase Hakken and his 4-year-old brother Cole are reportedly in the custody of Cuban immigration officers right now. Police say they were taken from their grandparents' home by their father Joshua last week and it is believe he took them and his wife by sailboat to Cuba.

Patrick Oppmann is live from Havana, Cuba, right now with the latest developments. Good morning, Patrick.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Yes, I'm still trying to put together the pieces here. U.S. officials say they have not received confirmation that the Hakken family is here in Cuba, but they've asked Cuban officials for help in locating this family, help in returning them to the United States. Cuban officials for their part maintain they have yet to receive a formal request.

You know, this is just one of the many issues you have when you talk about Cuba/U.S. relations. Two countries that still don't formally have diplomatic relations, but, you know, it's not just that. These are countries that over the years have refused to extradite people who are wanted in Cuba in the U.S., many of the American fugitives. We're talking about Black Panther members, members of radical groups, that fled here, hijacked planes here during the '60s and '70s when it seemed like every week people were hijacking planes to Cuba.

So, this is -- two countries that don't see eye to eye. This is maybe one of the reasons why the Hakken family could have decided to come to Cuba and exploit the bad relationship here. But, you know, you talk about coming to Tampa to an area like Havana, talking about 280 nautical miles.

And I'll tell you, John, over the last few days, the seas here very, very rough. If they came this way, it must have been a terrifying for this family -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Interesting. Patrick Oppmann, in Havana this morning. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Now, Zoraida Sambolin has the rest of the day's top stories. Good morning, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning to you.

New developments on the nuclear front in Iran this morning. The government says it has inaugurated a brand new uranium processing facility. It is located in the country's central providence (ph) of Yazd. The announcement came just hours after the U.S. Navy released new video of a laser attack weapon that is being deployed to the Persian Gulf.

A demonstration shows a laser bringing down a drone. The weapon is reportedly meant as a warning to Iran not to step up activity in the Gulf if tensions over its nuclear program build up.

A seventh death and three new cases of bird flu reported in China. Thousands of birds have been slaughtered and poultry markets have closed as health officials track the source of the information. This first time H7N9 has been found in humans.

World Health Officials say there is no evidence it can be passed from person to person however. And Casey Anthony could lose the right to her own life story. Today, a bankruptcy trustee will be asked for those rights. He says they can be sold to pay Anthony's debt. She owes nearly $800,000.

Anthony filed for bankruptcy earlier in year.

And tonight, one of President Obama's favorite singers will take the stage during a star-studded tribute to Memphis soul music at the White House. Remember the night at the Apollo Theater?

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SAMBOLIN: That's right. The real Al Green, seen performing at a Capital Records concert will be there. Green will be joined by soul music legend Mavis Staples and Steve Cropper. And that is not all -- Justin Timberlake will probably wear a suit and tie during his performance. Cyndi Lauper, Ben Harper and the Alabama Shakes will also be there.

The show will be broadcast later this month on PBS.

The president sings.

BERMAN: Exactly. Will he sing?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I suspect the answer is yes. I can't wait.

BERMAN: Step up, President Obama.

All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT: Victory so sweet. Louisville fans have been savoring the taste all night long after beating Michigan in the NCAA title game. We're going to go live to Atlanta on more of the Cardinals' celebration. It was a big one.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: The Louisville Cardinals are national champs after a high- flying heart-pumping three-point nailing 82-76 victory last night over Michigan.

ROMANS: And in the end, it may have been a player who never set foot on the court. It may be different from the title clinchy game. Kevin Ware showing the world that walking tall doesn't always require a healthy pair of legs. Joe Carter live from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this morning. Good morning.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Yes, yes. That is a national championship game. Great effort on both sides. A thrilling game. Of course, we follow the Kevin Ware story all week, but for a moment last night, a freshman named Spike stole the show. Spike Albercht averaged one point per game this season. He scored 17, gave Michigan the big lead.

But then Louisville and MVP Luke Hancock got hot. He made four threes in a row. In the second half, Louisville did as they've done all season. They finished strong in big games. After the win, a great moment. They lowered the basket so the injured guard, Kevin Ware, could cut down the net. Rick Pitino spoke about the Ware story and how well this team handled it with our Rachel Nichols.

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PITINO: 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 see the 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.

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CARTER: Nice moment for them. Obviously, congratulations to the men. Now, it is the women's turn. The Louisville women's basketball team plays in the national championship tonight against UConn. Coach Rick Pitino says he's going to try his best to make the trip to New Orleans so he can be there in person to celebrate with the women.

Now, obviously, a great run for this Michigan basketball team, a very young team, the youngest team in the field to make it all the way to the national championship game, and they did what many thought was going to be impossible. 20 years later, the Fab Five back together, all under the same roof, celebrating a great time in Michigan basketball. Twenty years later, the Fab Five.

Chris Webber, there he is. Many speculated that he wouldn't show up last night, but he did. This year's team, guys, has a very bright future ahead of them. So many young players, 20 years later, the most famous names in Michigan basketball supporting what is Michigan's future, Michigan's future in basketball. Someone said it's the fresh five, guys.

BERMAN: Michigan, indeed, does have a bright future, Joe. And Rick Pitino has an interesting future. Apparently, he promised his team if they won the national title, he'd go out and get a tattoo. So, I think the team is going to hold him to that. Coach Pitino is going to have some interesting ink coming up in the next few days. So, watch for that space, maybe on his arm or chest. Joe Carter thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, country singer, Brad Paisley, rapper, LL Cool J taking heat for their new song about racism. The reaction exactly the opposite of what they intended. That's trending, next.

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ROMANS: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans. Fox and Univision are both threatening to go off the broadcast spectrum and become cable only channel. It's a response to an appeal's court ruling last week that upheld the legality of Aereo. The company that makes a small antenna, essentially, that you can plug into a smartphone or tablet and watch broadcast TV channels.

Aereo also jeopardizes the network's ability to demand higher (INAUDIBLE) fees in cable companies. It could be an empty (ph) threat for the networks. An estimated 10 million viewers still get their TV over the air.

Also "Minding Your Business," fasten your seatbelt. In a new report in the "Journal Nature Climate Change," it says global warming could double the amount of turbulence airlines experience on Transatlantic flights. Basically, more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means a much bumpier ride.

That has real money implications for airlines and for passengers. More turbulence means increased risk of inflight injury, more flight delays for rerouted flights, and more damage to the aircraft. Researchers estimate turbulence currently cost (ph) about $150 million a year.

BERMAN: -- that to look forward to.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly.

BERMAN: All right. So, trending online this morning. News of Margaret Thatcher's death came as a real shock to Cher fans. Why do you ask? It turns out the #nowthatchersdead, hopefully, you can see this, was being red that now that Cher's dead. This triggered a virtual panic. Fans tweeted, "RIP Cher. I only wish I could turn back time." They also tweeted, "At least now. we'll find out about life after love." But rest easy, Cher fans. She's still with us. Yes. She's still around. Very good.

ROMANS: Wow! All right. Country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J are getting lots of attention with their new song, "Accidental Racist."

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ROMANS: In the song, Paisley sings about his appreciation for the confederate flag and its role in southern culture. LL Cool J makes the cameo to give his take on the situation. Paisley says he's serious about tune, that it's not a publicity stunt. He says LL Cool J was wearing a Yankee cup when he recorded his verse.

BERMAN: OK. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, two candidates vying to become mayor in a cash strapped small town, but there is a catch, a big catch. The two candidates running against each other, they're mother and son. ROMANS: Oh-oh.

BERMAN: We're going to talk to the mother about this unusual race, coming up next.

ROMANS: And a kindergartener set home over his mohawk haircut. The school says it was just following its rules. Oh, man. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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