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Arkansas, Missouri in the Wake of Tornado Destruction; North Korea Missile Threat; Congress Expected To take Up Gun Control; The Mystery Man of Maine; Anthony Weiner Sets Stage for Comeback

Aired April 11, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a state of emergency in Missouri. One of two states that was battered by tornadoes just hours ago.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ready to act. We're just hours away, finally, on a vote in Congress on gun control.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, I'm sorry. Catch of the day on camera. This is for you. A shark surprises a fisherman --

BERMAN: Oh, no!

SAMBOLIN: -- in open water. You haven't seen this, huh? That was for you, Berman.

BERMAN: Oh, that's not cool at all.

SAMBOLIN: There's a shark. I'm fishing. I'm fishing. Oops, there's a shark.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. He's scared of sharks.

BERMAN: Yes. One more place I can't go fishing now. I'm John Berman. It's Thursday, April 11th. And happening right now, two states, at least two powerful tornadoes and tens of thousands of people still in the dark this morning. Take a look at this. The first tornado hit around 8:00 p.m. in Hazelwood, Missouri, just outside St. Louis.

This was the scene after the twister tore through town. It ripped the roofs right off of a lot of houses. At least two dozen homes suffered major damage. Missouri's governor has declared a state of emergency there.

In Arkansas, a powerful twister shredded a path 30 miles wide through three towns in Van Buren County, about 75 miles north of Littlerock. At least 33 homes there, a church and a business, were damaged. Several vehicles overturned along highway 65. At least three people hurt. We want to go straight now to Samantha Mohr. She's live in the severe weather center in Atlanta. Samantha, what's the latest on these storms?

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'll tell you what, it's moved out of Missouri and stretching all the way from South Texas in where they've seen thousands of lightning strikes overnight, stretching on up into the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley, and then cold air with wintry weather moving in through the twin cities still this morning. So, a nasty commute there.

And look at all the cold air moving in. Temperatures some 35 degrees colder behind this front, 91 in Baltimore and D.C. Yesterday, that was a record high. Those temperatures will be dropping once this front moves in. That's not the only thing that's going to be dropping as we'll see severe weather likely throughout this afternoon and overnight tonight. Slight risk of severe weather. That means hail. Some two inches in diameter.

Winds from thunderstorms could be up around 70 miles per hour. So, tornado season is underway. Of course, across the deep south, usually from March to May, although, we've been off to a slow start so far, due to all the cold weather and the lengthy winter-type weather that we continued to have -- Zoraida and John.

BERMAN: All right. Samantha Mohr, thanks so much. Let's hope it keeps slow, the tornadoes.


BERMAN: All right, Samantha. Thanks so much.

MOHR: But a slow start doesn't mean it's going to stay that way.

SAMBOLIN: I bet. It's correct, right? Thank you.

MOHR: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour. The world is waiting nervously this morning for North Korea to make its next move. Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington, all keeping a very close eye on the rogue nation. A ballistic missile test launch could come at any time and without any warning.

Jim Clancy tracking the latest developments from Seoul this morning. And Jim, South Korean officials say that they have seen movement of several missiles along the North Korean Coast. Is there any evidence this morning of an impending launch?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no new evidence. And boy, I can tell you that everybody but everybody is watching right now. They've got missile destroyers with advanced ages systems on them. They're watching those suspected launch sites, trying to see any glimpse of what is going on there, but it's a waiting game now.

They said the window would open on the 10th. They saw that some of the rockets were fueled. And now, they said they've moved them around a little bit. But at the same time, all we can do right now is wait and watch to see what the North Koreans do next -- Zoraida. SAMBOLIN: Jim, a lot of people thought that Kim Jong-Un would be less hostile to the west. Is it political pressure from within North Korea, you think, that is driving his actions, because you got to wonder, what is the end game here?

CLANCY: Yes, you do. I mean, it's a really good question to ponder. Who is this guy? He was educated in the west. He came back here. He went to university in North Korea. He emerged very suddenly. The youngest son of Kim Jong-Il, selected to be the president. Somebody that really studies it closely is Bill Richardson, the former U.N. ambassador, and of course, someone who has worked with the North Koreans. Listen to what he had to say.


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I thought that the new leader, Kim Jong-Un, would be more -- more diplomatically- oriented, more willing to talk to the west, but apparently, what happened is when that missile launch failed, Kim Jong-Un had to show his people that he was strong, had to show his military that he was tough.


CLANCY: Now, that missile launch that -- that missile launch that failed was almost one year ago exactly. But he went on last December with a successful launch of a rocket, putting a satellite into orbit. It would seem to be that Kim Jong-Un thinks he has something to prove and he's trying to do just that -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Jim. I know that you're watching all of these developments for us. We're going to check back in with you. Thank you.

BERMAN: New this morning, the Senate expected to hold a procedural vote to determine whether or not to open debate on gun control legislation. That happens around 11 o'clock eastern time this morning. And it comes as two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, unveiled a bipartisan deal on expanded background checks. President Obama called this a significant development. Let's get more now from White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First lady, Michelle Obama, took the rare step of wading into a policy debate Wednesday, describing how she felt when she attended the funeral of teenager, Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in her hometown of Chicago.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me tell you, ooh, it is hard to know what to say to a room full of teenagers who are about to bury their best friend. But I started by telling them that Hadiya was clearly on her way to doing something truly worthy with her life. KEILAR: The first lady's comments came on the eve of the Senate's first vote on a waterdown gun bill, set to take place later this morning. Republican senator, Pat Toomey, and Democrat, Joe Manchin, both of whom have an A-rating from the National Rifle Association, forged to compromise on background checks for gun purchases.

Manchin visibly touched by Newtown families when he met with them on Capitol Hill. The legislation would require a background check on purchases at gun shows and on the internet, but would exempt private transactions. It would also requires states in the federal government to provide records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the national background check system, but can it pass a Republican Congress?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Many of them are looking carefully at the legislation. But I don't know in the end how many will support it.

KEILAR: Many gun owners are not convinced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of the laws will stop crime. The criminals will just go on getting their guns like they always have.

KEILAR: While the measure is far from the assault weapons ban the president pushed for after the Sandy Hook shootings, some of the parents of children killed say it's a first step.

NELBA MARQUEZ GREENE, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: What I've seen here is people working together on both sides to try to do something, to reduce the likelihood of another mother standing in my shoes.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Brianna.

Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. For nearly 30 years, people in Maine have heard of the north pond hermit, but maybe thought that he was a deepwoods legend like Bigfoot or Blair Witch. No one had ever seen him. But the tale is true.

The mystery man of Maine is real, and he is in big trouble with the law. CNNs Pamela Brown is following this story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 51 minutes, he's lugging out hamburger, pepperoni, and cookie dough.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This surveillance video showing a burglar stealing food from a campsite kitchen helped Maine authorities nab 47-year-old Christopher Knight (ph), a man known locally as an elusive figure. He was a mystery for more than two decades until now. SGT. TERRY HUGHES, GAME WARDEN: As soon as he stepped outside the door, I just turned, Game Warden, on the ground, on the ground, show me your hands, and he immediately just dropped right to the ground.

BROWN: A recluse, Knight says he lived alone in the woods for more than 27 years. Authorities say he told them he's only talked to one other person in all that time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He claims he had contact with another human being since the mid-1990s when he encountered somebody on a trail. And they exchanged a common greeting and that was about it.

BROWN: Officials say he lived at this camouflage campsite in the woods, even in the dead of Maine's brutal winters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just amazing to me that he can make it through Maine winters like that, living in a nylon tent.

BROWN: Police say knight targeted vacant campsites, stealing to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say well over 1,000 burglaries. Everything he stole was to survive, food, clothing, shelter, that type of thing.

BROWN: After his arrest, a trooper showed Knight a picture of himself, something he hadn't seen in more than 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he seen his reflection in the water a few times. And that was all he said.

BROWN (on-camera): When authorities asked Knight why he lived in the woods so long by himself, he had no reason to give. In fact, he said he often asked himself that same question.

Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.


SAMBOLIN: How bizarre?

BERMAN: That is a little strange. Wow! Twenty years by yourself.

Forty minutes after the hour right now. And in just about five hours, Tiger Woods hits the tee at Augusta. The world's --

SAMBOLIN: You think he's going to do it, right? You say he had that look in his eye.

BERMAN: He has the look in his eye is playing (ph) really well. The world's number one golfer. He's looking for his fifth Green Jacket at Augusta. He hasn't won the Masters since 2005. It's been five years since his last major. And everyone will be watching Tiger. But also a young phenom from China who predict -- many predict could be the next Tiger Woods. Fourteen-year-old Guan Tianlong will become the youngest player ever to compete in the 80-year history of the Masters when he tees off at 12:24 eastern time this afternoon. Tiger was off at 10:45 this morning, and Phil Mickelson who's going for his fourth green jacket tees off at 1:30 this afternoon.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And up next, we take you to hard-hit Missouri as storms tear through towns there.

BERMAN: And then, in American politics, is there life after something like this?


BERMAN: We're going to hear from Anthony Weiner wrestling with that very question. Can he stage a comeback? Coming up.


BERMAN: Forty-four minutes after the hour right now. Let's bring you up to date.

Residents in Missouri and Arkansas are grappling with the aftermath in a series of storms that spawned at least two tornadoes. Trees were topple, dozens of homes damaged, cars overturned. At least three people there were injured. Let's get a look from the ground.

Ryan Dean from our affiliate, KSDK live with us from Hazelwood, Missouri. Good morning.

RYAN DEAN, KSDK REPORTER: Good morning. Yes. It's kind of a quiet but busy scene, if that makes sense. Lots of emergency crews on-scene here. Of course, a state of emergency in place. They are doing their work, trying to, right now, look through the homes, make sure everybody is OK. Let me give you a look at where we are.

We're in the worst-hit neighborhood here in Hazelwood. It's probably a three-block radius. We're told about two dozen homes have had severe damage to them. We're told that they did a check, a sweep through the area around 11 o'clock. They found all survivors only minor injuries. No major injuries to report.

They're going to do another sweep, we're told, once the sun comes up, to check, make sure that they didn't miss anybody the first time around. Now, we do have an apartment complex nearby. We just learned brand-new information that has a gas leak from this storm. We're not sure where those folks are that live in that apartment complex. We're assuming they have been evacuated.

We know that the Red Cross has set up a shelter at a local school here in Hazelwood. And then, as far as school today, that has been canceled because some of the buildings have been damaged -- John.

BERMAN: Ryan Dean, KSDK in Hazelwood, Missouri, our thanks to you. Those pictures looking awfully bad, but I supposed the good news, no reports of injuries yet. Thanks, Ryan. SAMBOLIN: Yes. That is very good news.

Forty-six minutes past the hour. He hoped the fish would be biting, but he did not count on a shark crashing the party. Imagine this. More on this video coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 49 minutes past the hour. The Anthony Weiner redemption tour is under way. The former New York congressman resigned in disgrace in 2011 after he was caught sending lewd photos of himself to women online. So, now, he is seeking forgiveness and the city's top office. Here's Jason Carrol.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to run for mayor?

JASON CARROL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cameras, once again, following former U.S. congressman from New York, Anthony Weiner.

ANTHONY WEINER, FMR. NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: I don't have anything more to add than what you read in "The New York Times" story, but I'll be glad to sit down with each of individually sometime next week.

CARROL: This, after "The New York Times" magazine released its profile on him and his wife. In it, Weiner admits he may want to run for New York City mayor, saying, "I want to ask people to give me a second chance. I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down."

This image is what caused Weiner, who at one time, many Democrats considered a rising star, to resign in disgrace. And it wasn't just the tweet he sent to a 17-year-old girl, but also his explanation of it.

WEINER: Someone was pranking me and punking me.

CARROL: A lie Weiner repeated.

WEINER: This is a Twitter hoax, a prank that was done.

CARROL: When we caught up with Weiner mid-scandal, he was still trying to save his political career.

Can you tell us about the communications or any communications that you've had between yourself and, say, the Clintons or anyone else who's been advising you with this?

WEINER: No. I mean, I've had conversations with people, but I'm not -- you know, look, I made pretty serious mistakes and I need to redeem myself. And I'm working hard to try to get back to normal and try to serve the people of my district the best I can.

CARROL: Calls for his resignation kept coming. Soon, Weiner had no choice.

WEINER: So, today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.

CARROL: Nearly two years since then, Weiner disappeared from the political spotlight until now. "The Times" says Weiner spent more than $100,000 on polling and research to gauge voters' feelings about a mayoral bid. Weiner telling "The Times" he is a different man, saying, "If I ever go back to doing politics again, I don't think I'll be as good at it. Either that or I'll be this crazy new kind of politician."

Could a comeback work? Former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and recently former Republican South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, both examples of coming back from sex scandals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem here is what people will visualize in a campaign poster. Normally, they -- to see a head shot, but not a shot of someone's crotch. And what they're going to be seeing when they see Anthony Weiner's face is those Twitter photos.

CARROL: An informal poll suggests many would forgive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ask to forgive and you'll be forgiven.

CARROL: But not to forget.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would not be appropriate to run at this moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never vote for him for mayor.

CARROL: Weiner has until July to decide.

Jason Carrol, CNN, New York.


SAMBOLIN: You know, yesterday, Jake Tapper was on, and he was discussing this. And he quoted -- he had a famous quote, which I didn't know who it was, that is there are no second acts in life. And he says, yes, apparently, there are --

BERMAN: F. Scott Fitzgerald had it wrong when it comes to American politics.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Yes. So, who knows?

BERMAN: Apparently, we've seen it again and again and again.

SAMBOLIN: Who knows?

BERMAN: Fifty-two minutes after the hour right now. And this is the kind of story you will or may want to replay over and over and over again.

This video, oh, my goodness, was taken in a fisherman's kayak off Hawaii. You just saw it right here. Keep an eye on the left side of the screen. The fisherman is trying to reel in a tuna. There it is when -- hello!


BERMAN: That's a shark that jumps out of the water. The shark misses the tuna the first time, so it came back. It bumped the kayak and just took it. An expert thinks the shark was about ten feet long. It was a tiger shark, apparently. The fisherman, by the way, in a bit of insanity, kept on fishing in the same spot and caught a nice mahi-mahi apparently. I just can't believe it.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, look at that.

BERMAN: The guy is just -- he's sitting there, fishing, and a shark jumps up.

SAMBOLIN: I think he was whistling, actually, and it was no big deal to him. He's like, I'm not going to let go of my line. I got a fish here.


BERMAN: Love that. Absolutely love it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-three minutes past the hour. I know that scares you. Not that sharks don't scare me, but --

BERMAN: Yes. You're also tough right now.

SAMBOLIN: Because I'm here.

All right. The legendary curse rears its ugly head at Chicago's Wrigley Field. This is so disgusting. You're going to want to come back so that you can get some gory details.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Trending online this morning. Zoraida thinks this is gross.

SAMBOLIN: It is gross.

BERMAN: Was it a prank or something much more serious? A package with a goat's head delivered to Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: And you don't think that's gross?

BERMAN: It's pretty freaking gross.


BERMAN: It was addressed to the Cubs' owner, Tom Ricketts. A lot of you probably know why.

SAMBOLIN: The curse. BERMAN: Some people are taking it seriously calling it an intimidating package. The reason, probably, they're part of the Cubs lore dating back to the 1945 World Series when tavern owner, Billy Sianis brought his goat to Wrigley Field. He was thrown out. That led him cursing the Cubs, saying they would never win a World Series game at Wrigley Field, and you know what, they haven't. And the curse of "Billy the Goat" lives on.

SAMBOLIN: Mr. Ricketts never saw the goat's head. Apparently, it got delivered to a security guard who then called police. So, he never get to see --

BERMAN: It's pretty gross. It's totally gross.

SAMBOLIN: It's terrible.

BERMAN: It's gross.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Everyone's tired of North Korea, right? But they sure are providing plenty of material for evening comedians. Here's late-night laughs.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Starting to get serious. China has warned North Korea about starting a war. China told -- woo? Really?


LENO: No. China told them flat-out, do not fire any missiles at the United States at least until after we get our money. You know --


They owe us $16 trillion. Wait until then.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": The missiles are believed to have a range of about 2,000 miles. No one knows for sure. But they could hit targets in Japan to South Korea for sure, even possibly Hawaii and Guam, which is bad. And yet, why do I feel like this whole thing could be solved by sending Kim Jong-Un a Disneyland Park Hopper pass?


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Have you, guys, heard about this? Target, they're back in the news. Target. Just a week after naming the color of a plus-sized dress manatee gray --


FALLON: Now, they're having to rename a pair of sandals called "Orina" because "Orina" means urine in Spanish.

(LAUGHTER) FALLON: Well, you should know that target is just Spanish for fancy Wal-Mart.



SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.