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Back From Havana; South Korea Asks China to Step In; White House Hosts All-Star Concert; Giffords: "Be Bold, Be Courageous"

Aired April 10, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, two kids abducted, brought to Cuba by sailboat, returned to the U.S. by plane. Their parents now booked and in jail.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And the world on watch over North Korea, the U.S. expecting a missile launch at any time.

BERMAN: Plus, a CNN exclusive with Gabby Giffords. She doesn't speak like she used to, but she's still making her voice heard in America's gun control debate.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's Wednesday morning, 29 minutes past the hour, so let's get started here.

BERMAN: The parents accused of abducting their two young sons and sailing off to Cuba, they are back in Florida this morning where they are now under arrest. Cuban officials turned the Hakken family over to the U.S. after they were spotted Tuesday by a CNN reporter at a Marina in Havana.

The family was flown back to the U.S. from Havana overnight, arriving just a few hours ago. CNNs Victor Blackwell is live in Tampa. And Victor, give us the latest.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chase and Cole back at home with their grandparents here in Tampa. And you know, it was Monday evening when sheriffs' office here in Hillsborough County first said that they've received information that the Hakkens were in Cuba. Well, that information came from the state department.

And those parents, Joshua and Sharon Hakken had been arrested. We now have the first video since the arrest. They're being walked into a jail here where they were questioned for hours, and their booking photos show two very sunburned faces, probably, happening during that journey to Cuba, south from Florida. Here's the tic-tac that we got from the FBI and from the sheriff's office.

They got the information from the state department that they were there in Cuba. Our reporter, Patrick Oppmann there in Cuba, walked up to the boat, confirmed that, indeed, they were there, then those authorities here from the county, FBI also flying to Havana to arrest the Hakken parents, take custody of those boys. We're told that they were kept separate on the plane, the boys in one area, the parents in another.

And when they landed here in Hillsborough County, they were put in two separate vehicles. Those parents taken off for questioning. The boys returned to their grandparents. And we heard from their grandfather, Robert Hauser, last night as he awaited their return. Listen.


ROBERT HAUSER, GRANDFATHER: Right now, we're just looking forward to sitting, getting them in our arms, and hugging them, and being with them and getting them home where they'll be safe again.


BLACKWELL: Now, we have been told that those grandparents and the boys will make themselves available to talk more about this ordeal starting last Wednesday when the grandmother, Patricia Hauser, was bound and those boys were taken all the way up to the point now that they're back home. And, they were told medically, physically are fine, but it will take some time to determine if there are any psychological scars from their last week, this really terrible ordeal -- John.

BERMAN: Kids back with the grandparents, which is terrific news, but what about the parents? What about Joshua Hakken? What charges might he face now? And then, there's a question about the wife. There was a mystery. Was she involved? Was she a victim of the kidnapping? What do we know now about her involvement?

BLACKWELL: Well, police believe she, indeed, was involved. I've got the list of charges, and this goes for both of them. Two counts of kidnapping for each, two counts of interference in child custody for each, two counts of child neglect for each, accounts of burglary with battery for each that happened that day that Patricia Hauser was bound, according to authorities, and an extra count, a federal charge for Joshua Hakken, that flight to avoid prosecution in the process of leaving to avoid those charges.

BERMAN: So, a litany of charges that he's facing now. No question about that. All right. Victor Blackwell, thanks very much in Tampa for us this morning.

At this minute, the United States and Japan have all eyes glued on North Korea.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Go ahead. We're on you now.


BERMAN: Because according to one U.S. official, the White House believes the test firing of a mobile ballistic missile by the north could be imminent. Jim Clancy monitoring the latest developments for us. He joins us now live from the Seoul this morning. Jim, Reuters reporting that South Korea has asked China to stop -- to step in and help.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The foreign ministry here announced that they approached Beijing as well as Moscow, asking the two biggest trading partners, really, of North Korea to try to cool the provocations that have been coming from Pyongyang. Obviously, it's elevated tensions in the region. Obviously, China has been an interested party that's told Pyongyang to dial things back several times in the past.

But this is a way -- they want them to curtail the provocations, the kinds of provocations, and I think we could include in this, John, this impending missile launch that they are going to fire. Everyone at least says they suspect that they're going to fire a missile, a medium range missile with a range of some 4,000 kilometers.

If you look on a map and you see just how far that can go, it's causing some disquiet in Japan, South Korea, as well as all the way to Guam where the U.S. has a couple of military bases. Now, patriot anti-missile batteries have been set up in South Korea and in Japan that we know of.

There is also an anti-missile system that is on the island of Guam, but the military commander for the pacific, the U.S. admiral says, he doesn't want to see the missile shot down, unless, it is threatening, that it is going to make a landfall, that is to hit one of those countries we just talked about. Back to you, John.

BERMAN: Is there any way to doubt at this point that North Korea will go ahead with this test launch of one or both missiles, and what might the repercussions, the immediate repercussions be?

CLANCY: Well, you know, I think that it's very, very likely. Look, you've got Kim Il-Sung's birthday coming up on the 15th. There's going to be major celebrations of that up in Pyongyang. This is the perfect time during these kinds of joint maneuvers by the U.S. and South Korean militaries. There is a higher chance of provocations coming from the north. And so, a missile launch in the eyes of most experts is almost a sure thing -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jim Clancy for us in Seoul, South Korea this morning, watching what the North Koreans might do next. It could happen at any minute now. Thanks, Jim.

SAMBOLIN: A 39-year-old Asian elephant with the Ringling Brothers Circus is expected to fully recover after getting hit by a bullet in a drive by shooting. It happened yesterday morning in Mississippi. The elephant was in an enclosure outside the arena where the circus was performing when she was shot in the shoulder. Police say leads are slim, and they don't have a suspect.

BERMAN: The air force has begun grounding one-third of its fighter jet fleet due to the forced budget cuts that kick in last month. And yesterday, the navy announced it is canceling all air shows put on by Blue Angel's Flight demonstration squadron. They are canceling them for the rest of the year.


COMMANDER THOMAS FROSCH, BLUE ANGELS FLIGHT LEADER: We've been directed to focus our resources locally. We can't use any government funds to send air crew to other facilities.


BERMAN: What it means is that until further notice, Blue Angel's pilots can only fly 10 hours a month to maintain the required flight hours, but in order to prepare the air shows, they need to fly 30 to 40 hours a month.


BERMAN: That simply not in the budget --

SAMBOLIN: A lot of people are going to be disappointed. They've been slowly but surely canceling this. So, this is now a mass cancellation.

BERMAN: Rest of the year.


The Treasury Department confirms that Beyonce and Jay-Z's recent trip to Cuba was approved in advance by the U.S. government. The couple has been taking heat from several Florida lawmakers over the controversial trip. Travel embargo prohibits Americans from visiting Cuba for tourism. But a letter sent by treasury officials to two members of Congress state that their visit was part of an educational exchange program.

BERMAN: President Obama paid tribute to Memphis soul music with an all-star concert last night at the White House. No Al Green, unfortunately, but the president was impressed when Booker T. and the Memphis soul all- stars greeted him with green onions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- hail to the chief, we're going with that.



BERMAN: More of Sam & Dave was there to sing his Memphis anthem, "Soul Man." Justin Timberlake sang "Dock of the Bay" with guitarist, Steve Cropper, who co-wrote the famous Otis Redding classic, and Mavis Staples performed "I'll Take You There." As we said, you know, Al green was supposed to be there, but --

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Couldn't -- yes. Well, you know, we were looking forward to the president singing as well. Did he not sing?

BERMAN: Well, Al Green -- you know, the president always said Al Green was his favorite. Al green couldn't go because he had back problems. So, there was no chance for that duet that we were all looking for.

SAMBOLIN: No, but he could have sung anyway, right?



BERMAN: Later on "STARTING POINT," we're going to hear all about last night's performance from musical director, legendary Memphis soul keyboardist, Booker T.

SAMBOLIN: And just ahead on EARLY START, turning tragedy into a life mission now. Gabby Giffords wants to influence Congress on gun control.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you were to name the number one thing that Congress could do to prevent the kind of violence that you were the victim of, what would it be?


BASH: Wow.



SAMBOLIN: Dana Bash sits down exclusively with Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, when we come back.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

So, how do you recover from a near fatal gunshot and wage an uphill political battle all at the same time? Three months ago on the second anniversary of Gabby Giffords being shot, the former congresswoman and her husband, Mark Kelly, started Americans for Responsible Solutions. The group's goal is to curb gun violence and act as a political counterweight to the NRA.

Dana Bash spent time with Giffords and Kelly at their home in Arizona and has this exclusive look at their political efforts and her personal battle to recover.


BASH (voice-over): The Sandy Hook shooting in December spurred Gabby Giffords and husband, Mark Kelly, to take a stand.

GIFFORDS: Sandy brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.


BASH: The brain damage from Giffords' own gunshot wound makes it difficult for her to find words, even Sandy Hook.

GIFFORDS: Sandy Brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.

GIFFORDS: Sandy brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.


KELLY: Sandy Hook elementary. It's something we just can't -- 20 first graders.

GIFFORDS: -- died.

KELLY: Yes, in their classrooms.


BASH: The couple originally called for a ban on assault weapons and limits to high capacity magazines. Giffords made a dramatic plea to senators.

GIFFORDS: Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

BASH: But they now admit there are limits on what is politically realistic.

(on-camera): If you were to name the number one thing that Congress could do to prevent the kind of violence that you were the victim of, what would it be?

GIFFORDS: Background checks.

KELLY: Yes, certainly. Without a doubt.

BASH (voice-over): Giffords has learned to navigate an iPad for e- mail with her left hand because her right hand is paralyzed, but most of her communicating with former colleagues, pressing them for new gun laws, goes through Kelly, mostly on the phone.

(on-camera): I've seen the written (ph) that there's irony that you are such a good spokesperson for new laws to curb gun violence because you can't speak very well.

KELLY: Yes, I guess it's kind of -- maybe it's bad irony, I don't know. It's something that --


KELLY: It stinks.

BASH (voice-over): There is no question the gun culture is deeply ingrained in Giffords. Even after her near fatal shooting, she still owns a gun, which her husband uses in target practice with her looking on.

(on-camera): What's it like to sit and hear the gunshot go off? Does it startle you?


KELLY: Well, I think it's because Gabby doesn't remember the gunshot going off the day she was injured. Right? You don't remember that.


BASH: Is your hope to be able to shoot a gun again?

GIFFORDS: I don't know.

BASH: Not a big priority in your life right now?

GIFFORDS: Not really.

KELLY: Not at the top of the list.


BASH (voice-over): Dana Bash, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.


BERMAN: Giffords insists she is optimistic about getting an expansion of background checks for some private gun sales like at gun shows. Dana will speak more to Giffords about how she maintains her really just unbelievable optimistic outlook despite the fact that her gunshot wound makes it hard to speak and walk and see.

That's going to be tonight on "AC 360" at 8:00 and at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. I have to say, I've never seen that side of Gabby Giffords. That interview was so revealing.

SAMBOLIN: It was. And if you look at her face and her facial expressions as Dana is asking her questions, it seems like she totally understands but is really struggling to be able to answer. You know, we wish her well. She's taken on this mission, so proud of her.

BERMAN: So much energy.


BERMAN: It takes so much work to overcome something like that.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. It's a day of weather extremes, from heavy snow in the plains to a major severe storm threat. Can you believe we're still talking about this? Coming up, Jennifer Delgado will tell us who is in Mother Nature's crossfire, who has angered her this morning?

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to


SAMBOLIN: I think it's you. Four empanadas this morning. You got somebody mad up there.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Forty-nine minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date.

The Florida couple accused of abducting their two sons and sailing off to Cuba back in Florida this morning, and they are under arrest. Cuba turned Josh and Sharyn Hakken over to the United States along with the two little boys. The family was spotted Tuesday on a 25-foot sailboat at a marina in Havana.

Florida authorities sent a plane to Cuba to fly them back overnight. The two boys will be returned to -- actually, have already been returned to their grandparents.

BERMAN: Imminent. That's how one U.S. official describes the possibility of North Korea test firing a mobile ballistic missile. Intelligence reports indicate Pyongyang has already completed launch preparations. The north warning foreigners in the south to take steps to protect themselves.

A dramatic apartment fire rescue caught on tape in Eastern China. A man identified as Mr. Tang was on his way to work when he saw the flames. He climbed three stories with an axe and some rope to rescue a girl who was trapped inside. Oh, my. Firefighters and police arrived and helped him lower the girl down to safety.

SAMBOLIN: How incredible is that?


SAMBOLIN: Fantastic.

All right. So, how would you like to win $40,000? You'd be pretty excited, right?

BERMAN: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: OK. A woman in Toronto thought that she won $40,000 in Canada's lotto max drawing. But then, Maria Carreiro (ph) took a little closer look, and guess what happened, her prize turned out to be $40 million. So, she plans on buying herself and her two daughters, both single moms, new homes and cars.


MANUELA CARREIRO, DAUGHTER OF LOTTO WINNER: It still hasn't sunk in. You know, my dad worked so hard, and we've been struggling so much. $40 million is so much money.


SAMBOLIN: That is an incredible response.


BERMAN: That's what I would be doing.

SAMBOLIN: You cry a little, you dance a little, you laugh a little. First things first, though. Yes, the entire family, guess where they're headed to? Disney world!

BERMAN: Disney world.

SAMBOLIN: That is fantastic.

BERMAN: All right. So, the monster storm that dumped several inches of snow out west cancel almost 500 flights to Denver International Airport. It dropped hail on Iowa and Nebraska. That storm, it's on the move.

SAMBOLIN: Where is it going?

BERMAN: That's what I want to know, and that's why we have Jennifer Delgado with us here to tell us everything -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. It's been moving really slowly, bringing snow, hail, everything out there. And look at the radar, guys. We have a lot of lightning out there to start off the morning. It's spinning from areas like Texas all the way up towards Michigan. Now, what we're looking at right now in the pink, that's that wintry mix.

We're talking freezing rain, and that is going to make for a very messy and dangerous commute out there. Anywhere you're seeing in pink. Oklahoma City getting pounded with the lightning. Heads up, Dallas, that is going to be heading in your direction in about the next hour and a half. Now, we are not done with the snow by any means.

In fact, we do still have quite a few warnings out there, and that's winter storm warnings from areas, including the Dakotas, even over now for areas like Minnesota where we could see a foot of snowfall. Yes, it is April, but April does not care what is on the calendar because winter still feels like it out there. Now, for today, we do have severe weather threat in place.

Anywhere you're seeing in red all the way down towards Houston into Maryland, and that means this boundary system is going to be bringing a few more clouds for areas across the northeast. That means the reality is you could see an isolated shower for areas like Boston or into Connecticut or they could start off the morning with some shower activity. But look at this high temperature map for you.

It almost looks like we have a computer glitch here, but it's not. It's Mother Nature's glitch. Look at the 40s and the 30s out there for areas like Denver, 30 for a high, 45 in Chicago, and then look at Memphis, 82 degrees. A very sharp gradient. That is what's going to cause the severe weather. Washington, D.C., say hello to 90 degrees this afternoon. You got to 89 yesterday. You were warmer than us in hot-lanta.


BERMAN: Ninety?

DELGADO: Ninety degrees. I lose my mind in the heat.


DELGADO: I love it. I love it.

SAMBOLIN: Go find it. Go find it.

BERMAN: Be careful. Thanks so much. We call it Mother Nature's glitch. It makes me nervous. She's going negative on Mother Nature --

SAMBOLIN: I know. You started looking at that. You want some rain. Did she forecast any rain in there?

BERMAN: In a few days, we'll get some rain, hopefully.

SAMBOLIN: You have it. All right.

And just ahead, from "30 Rock" to late night, could Alec Baldwin be looking at a new gig? EARLY START will be right back.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. A look at what is trending online. They're called breastaurants.

BERMAN: Oh, are they really?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, they are. And you know what they are? They are the fastest growing segment of the restaurant business as well. Hooters, Twin Peaks, Cans. You get the picture, folks. Food, beer, and lots of scantily clad waitresses. Now, the Texas-based chain Bikinis Bar and Grill is making a big move in the breastaurant battle.

It's trademark the term officially making it America's only breastaurant. Bikinis has been expanding with locations now in Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. There you have it. Do you like it? You like that story? You're checking it out.

BERMAN: Your story. Those not mine. Nothing to do with that story. This is my story.


BERMAN: So, now that we know Jimmy Fallon is taking over "The Tonight Show," there's plenty of speculation about who will replace Jimmy. "The New York Times" says Alec Baldwin is in the mix for a spot in NBC's late night lineup, but "The Times" is quoting an executive involved in the network's program planning.

It says the most likely landing place for Baldwin would be the latest of NBC's late shows. The spot now occupied by "Last Call with Carson Daly." So, when all is said and done, NBC could have three new late night hosts.

SAMBOLIN: Great. To check out other top CNN trends, head to

BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.