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Snowstorm Hammers Northern Plains; Search Suspended; Kerry Calls for Talks with North Korea; Chavez's Choice Wins Venezuela Election; Good Anya at Augusta

Aired April 15, 2013 - 05:00   ET



JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: North Korea knows what it has to do.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Kerry leaving the door wide open for Kim Jong Un. Will he agree to nuclear talks or risk war by launching a missile?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Also ahead this morning, missing in the mountains. A hiker bury by a deadly avalanche. And searchers right now, they are helpless by treacherous conditions.

BERMAN: So check this out. This is Minnesota and, yes, folks, it is mid-April. Snow, ice, howling winds. This is actually happening. It is supposed to be spring.

BALDWIN: And Augusta, Georgia, here we go. This is a victorious Adam Scott becoming the first Australian to ever win the Masters. He pulled it off, sudden death, breathtaking fashion. We have it all for you if you're watching.

BERMAN: It was just awesome.


Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off this morning. It is Monday, April 15th. Happy Patriots Day. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BALDWIN: Let's begin here with a little news from the homeland. We have the Northern Plains pounded. We saw some of the pictures by snow.

Where are we, like almost in May now? And here you have this snow, lots of it. Combined with low visibility, high winds creating a recipe for disaster on this Minnesota highway. The Dakotas saw up to a foot and a half of snow yesterday and, folks, it is not over yet, another winter-like blast taking aim at Denver. How much snow is expected there?

Let's go to Bonnie Schneider live in the weather center. Say it isn't so. It's crazy.

BONNIE SCHNEDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm sure, Brooke and John, that's what they're saying in Denver.

BALDWIN: I know.

SCHNEIDER: Where is our spring?

Well, Denver, you're on your way to seeing the snowiest April ever. But it's not just snowing in Colorado. We have snow right now in northern Minnesota, across the Northern Plains and North Dakota. And then where it's a little warmer, we're seeing some very heavy thunderstorms that are sweeping across Milwaukee and into Green Bay at this hour.

So it's a stormy and snowy start to your workweek. How much snow? Look to up to a foot in parts of the Northern Plains. Now, it will be a little lighter in some areas, however, as you look towards the west, west of Denver and north of Denver, you could see well over a foot.

But for Denver itself, by the time we get into later tonight and early tomorrow, we are looking at three to six inches of more snow and cold temperatures too so this is a big wintry mess.

Let's take a look at the forecast snow totals over the region. All the way across Colorado into Wyoming. We're going to see some heavy amounts of snow and all of that sweeping further to the East.

Another thing that's headed eastward is this cold front and it's going to trigger showers and thunderstorms possibly, severe ones over right parts of the heartland today. So, it's a good day to plan your travel very carefully and have your NOAA weather radio turned on and programmed to your country or your parish if you're in Louisiana.

Look at the area we're watching today for severe weather, meaning we could see frequent lightning, heavy downpours of rain from St. Louis, to Joplin, all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma and then on Tuesday, we'll be watching for areas a little further west to see another severe weather outbreak.

So, normally, spring is a busy time but it's not necessarily a busy time for temperatures like these dropping down into the mid-20s for Rapid City and I'm getting down to 40 for Chicago and for Minneapolis, rather, so we are seeing a cold front coming into the Northern Plains.

BALDWIN: Aye-yie-yie. I was looking, I was squinting to see if that was really something like 20 something degrees, Bonnie. Thank you.

BERMAN: It's deeply offensive, I have to say. This weather is deeply offensive.

BALDWIN: This time of year, right? I was in Florida I would say nanny, nanny boo-boo to you.

BERMAN: All right. Sad to report here. Rescuers in Washington state have suspended their search for a missing hiker who was buried by an avalanche. They're citing rough conditions on Granite Mountain.

This was one of two avalanches Saturday on the Cascade Mountains. The second on Red Mountain killed a female hiker. The avalanche on Granite Mountain dragged down three snowshoers. It dragged them down more than 1,200 feet. Two men in their 30s did survive. A third, 60- year-old Mitch Hungate who was described as an experience hiker, he remains missing this morning.


MARILYNN HUNGATE, MISSING HIKER'S WIFE: He's just a very, very strong individual and we really hoped that somehow he would break free and find his way off the mountain and we didn't want him to come down to an empty parking lot.


BERMAN: Search and rescue teams are waiting for first light this morning to see if they can resume their search.

BALDWIN: Also new this morning, a critical question: does North Korea want to talk or they want to fight?

On a pivotal day in the Korean nuclear crisis, there is a new call from the U.S. for, quote/unquote, "authentic and credible negotiations". But Secretary of State John Kerry is making it clear the burden on ending the North's nuclear ambitions fall squarely on Pyongyang. Here he is in Asia over the weekend. Secretary of state vowing to protect America's allies.

Earlier today, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made what is believed to be his first public appearance in two weeks. Here he is, it includes visiting the mausoleum where his grandfather, North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung, and his father Kim Jong Il lie in state.

A day of ceremony with an ominous undercurrent. Jim Clancy has the latest from Seoul, South Korea -- Jim.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Brooke, John, yes, there were major celebrations going on this day in North Korea to mark the 101st birthday of Kim Il Sung, the founding father of North Korea.

Kim Jong Un emerged from two weeks of absence. He appeared to be flanked by members of his military as he visited the glass encased coffins of his grandfather and his father to pay what the North Koreans said was the humblest of respects.

Meantime, in South Korea, people got up, they had breakfast and they went to work. They opened up the daily newspaper. It wasn't Kim Il Sung un on the cover, no. It was Psy and the release of his new single. That's what people are more interested in hearing.

In fact, the media here came under a little criticism because of the way that they have described these lavish celebrations in North Korea at a time when so many people there are hungry. The North Koreans lashed out at them saying that it was not at all the kind of thing that they should be saying on a day like this.

Meantime, there is still some focus, of course, on Mr. Kerry's trip here. It is thought to have been a very positive trip and especially some of the comments he made in Japan.

KERRY: We need to make it clear that they have to move towards the denuclearization. They need to stop the threats. They need to stop the missile test, stop the nuclear tests. And we're prepared to come to the table under the meeting of the obligations.

CLANCY: Kerry's trip is thought to have really turned down the temperature here on the Korean peninsula. That's the biggest takeaway from all of this. It also put the ball into Kim Jong Un's court. It brought China a little bit closer to the U.S. point of view by exploiting the extreme rhetoric of the North and, of course, it reassured U.S. allies in the region, Japan and South Korea.

There's also an assurance to Beijing there that the U.S. wants a nonnuclear Korean peninsula. At the same time, there's been no positive response that has been heard from the North. It's still early yet. They expect them to more or less change the subject entirely now with Kim Il-Sung's birthday and perhaps sometime down the road, we'll hear from them -- Brooke, John.


BALDWIN: Jim Clancy for us this morning in Seoul, South Korea.

Meantime, the man Hugo Chavez chose as his successor has narrowly captured Venezuela's presidential election. But it was so close his opponent wants a recount. Nicolas Madura won 50.66 percent of the votes here to Enrique Radonski's 49.07 percent. The country's top election officials says the results are irreversible.

BERMAN: All right. You can't put it off any longer. It's time to cut that check to the government right now. It is April 15th, Tax Day. Beware the ides of April. If you owe the IRS money, you need to get your return postmarked by midnight tonight.

But it's not all bad news.


BERMAN: Apparently not. A lot of retailers and restaurants are offering tax deadline deals today only. Some were even offering to pay the tax on what you buy.

And this may be the best news ever, we understand Arby's is giving away free curly fries.

BALDWIN: Curly fries?

BERMAN: Curly fries.

BALDWIN: Sign me up.

BERMAN: Free curly fries

BALDWIN: Australian eyes are smiling now that one of their own is finally wearing the green jacket. Adam Scott becoming the first ever Aussie to win the Masters.

BERMAN: And he did it in dramatic fashion, man, did he ever sinking this 12-foot putt for a birdie in the second playoff hole. That was the second time in about 20 minutes the guy went nuts, he had to sink an unbelievable birdie on 18 in regulation and to put it into sudden death.

BALDWIN: Look at that crowd.

BERMAN: He beat Angel Cabrera. He captured his first career major. You know, as I said, both players made birdies on 18 to force a playoff. It was simply phenomenal.

CNN's Jared Greenberg is live in Atlanta for us.

Jared, you know, I was glued to the TV for much longer than I should have been yesterday watching this.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

JARED GREENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the people -- good morning. As the people who are controlling those TV programs not disappointed about that the all as it was an historic drama-filled victory for first time Master champ Adam Scott. The Australian entered the final shot 4 shots off the lead. The runner-up two years ago in Augusta, Scott was able to complete what no other Australian was able to do before.

The 32-year-old had the patrons on his side. On 18, Scott appeared to have secured his place in the butler cabinet. However, experience down the stretch is a funny thing when it comes to these Majors and that's exactly what Angel Cabrera had on his side. The Argentine earned the green jacket back in 2009, he was just simply marvelous down the stretch, forcing a sudden death playoff with Scott -- look at this shot on 18.

We would go to a second playoff hole after Scott came out of signing his score card. Cabrera for birdie -- look at this. Cabrera leaves it on the lip. He can't believe it didn't drop. So, Scott a chance to win, Scott says you bet you. A second straight year the Masters goes to a playoff and it's one a country, a continent will cherish forever.

CNN's Rachel Nichols with the 2013 Masters champ.


ADAM SCOTT, 2013 MASTERS CHAMP: It's an amazing journey, the whole golfing career and I've played a lot of Majors and to finally get one means a lot. I've knocked on the door a couple of times recently and to get over the hurdle, hopefully, it's the start of something to come.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you see when you look at this guy?

SCOTT: That's a happy man out there when I look at that. It's quite a feeling to make a couple putts to win the tournament. It's what every kid dreams about. So for it to finally happen is amazing.


GREENBERG: And Australian nearly a champion on a couple of occasions, guys. Of course, Greg Norman back in 1996 was six shots up, heading into Sunday's final round. Nick Faldo came all the way back and defeated him. So the nation really proud today.

BERMAN: And, of course, Tiger Woods, he came into this tournament as the clear favorite. This was a rollercoaster few days for him.

GREENBERG: It really was. He talked a lot about the green speed. It's not like the U.S. Open where you anticipate rock hard greens, but the speed many of the golfers thought would be a lot faster. The first two days without the moisture on the greens was slow and then, of course, we all saw the weather conditions on Sunday in Georgia. They were not favorable for the golfers and many anticipated fast greens.

And as you heard, the commentators talking about several times especially Tiger, they just didn't believe that the greens would be as hard as they would. Listen, Tiger had a very good four-round tournament but it just wasn't to be and now the drought continues. Nine years since his last major victory. He's still four behind the great Jack Nicklaus for the all-time lead.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you very much, Jared Greenberg in Atlanta.

It was crazy. And, of course, Tiger had that two-stroke penalty for the illegal drop. Still --

BALDWIN: But I'm just wondering, to have sudden death at the end of the Masters, and to go to a second round, it has to be sort of record breaking.

BERMAN: You had Angel Cabrera when he won in 2009, I believe won in a playoff and Tiger Woods won in a playoff fives year before that but this what made this so dramatic is these guys were hitting their putts. On 18, they both hit great putts to send it into sudden death. They really was astounding.

BALDWIN: OK. There could be a break in the case here of a murdered Texas D.A. and his wife? Coming up, the potential evidence found in a storage unit the detectives are now honing in on.


BALDWIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour here on a Monday. Welcome back to EARLY START. The investigation into the murders of the Texas district attorney and his wife and an assistant D.A. now appears to be zeroing in on a former Kaufman County justice of the peace. Eric Williams was arrested just this past weekend on an unrelated charge. A source tells our affiliate out of Dallas, WFAA that ballistic tests are being done on weapons found in a storage locker room that was rented for Williams and reports indicate that these weapons are similar to the those used in the murders.

CNN's Ed Lavandera following the developments for us this morning. He's live in Dallas. Ed, good morning.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. Well, you know, we've been reporting for some time we knew that investigators have been poring through cases that Mark Hasse, the assistant D.A. and the district attorney, Mike McLelland, might have prosecuted that perhaps somewhere in those files might be someone that they would need to take a closer look at and that's where Eric Williams came up.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): This house belongs to a former Kaufman County justice of the peace named Eric Williams. On Friday, investigators spent hours combing through the house. Then on Saturday, those investigators descended on this storage unit 15 miles away. Several local media outlets report investigators found 20 weapons inside the storage unit that was rented for Eric Williams.

And investigators also discovered this Crown Victoria, a police style vehicle. Local media also reports this type of car was seen in the neighborhood the night the McLellands were murdered.

Eric Williams is now sitting in jail. Over the weekend, he was arrested and charged with making a terror terroristic threat. He's being held on a $3 million bond. Williams and his lawyer have vigorously denied any involvement in the Kaufman County murders and insist they've cooperated voluntarily with investigators.

ERIC WILLIAMS: My heartfelt condolences go out to both the McLelland family and Hasse family because they were in public office doing the right thing. And for some reason, they were not aware of, they paid the ultimate price for that.

LAVANDERA: Williams' connection to Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland dates back to last year. He was convicted on two felony counts of burglary and theft by a public servant. This video played at his trial shows him stealing computers from a county building and here he is during a police interrogation.

INTERROGATOR: So basically just took the monitors and the memory --

WILLIAMS: Not that I can remember.

LAVANDERA: It was a big scandal in a little town. Prosecutors Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland were front and center on the case. This is a picture of both men from the courtroom during that trial. Denise Bell covered the trial "The Forney Post" newspaper.

DENISE BELL, THE FORNEY POST: It was a mega-trial for our little community. The sense of it was a big trial.

LAVANDERA: After the trial, McLelland told reporters that Williams conviction was a sign the good old boy network is gone and elected officials should be held to a higher standard. Hasse ripped into Williams calling the disgraced justice of the peace a dishonorable liar and then he was using Kaufman County as his own piggy bank.

Williams lost his job and his law license and was sentenced to two years probation. Denise Bell says she spoke with Mike McLelland in the weeks before his death. She says after Mark Hasse's murder in January, McLelland was worried about Eric Williams.

(on camera): Did McLelland tell you that he believed Eric Williams was responsible for that murder?

BELL: Yes.


What exactly and in what context did he tell you this?

BELL: In a context of be careful, Denise.

LAVANDERA: He told you to be careful?

BELL: Yes.

LAVANDERA: Why would he tell you to be careful?

BELL: Because I sat in the front row and covered this story for 10 days.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Despite Eric Williams now getting so much attention, investigators have still not officially named him as a suspect or filed murder charges against him.


LAVANDERA: Brooke, we've been talking with Eric Williams' attorney for several weeks now since his first name started bubbling up. He had been in constant communication with us as any time we gave him a phone call he would call us right back. But we have not heard from him. None of our phone calls have been returned this weekend -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Ed Lavandera, what a story -- Ed, thank you.

BERMAN: It's such an interesting twist in that case, obviously. We're watching so closely.


BERMAN: All right. Twenty minutes after the hour right now. And get this, some brand-new iPhone buzz this morning.


BERMAN: Coming up, factory workers, thousands of miles away, spilling the beans just for us.


BERMAN: Minding your business this morning. The new week on Wall Street not shaping up to be so hot. Stock futures pointing to a modestly lower open. But remember, you know, last week was kind of awesome. The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 jumped more than 2 percent. That was one of the best weeks of the year.

SAMBOLIN: Tough news, though, for anyone thinking of retiring, all the money you paid into your Social Security while you were working, working, you may not be getting it back.

Alison Kosik, in for Christine Romans, good morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. This is yet another kick in the teeth for us, those of us who are paying into Social Security each and every paycheck of ours. You know, it's already on track to run out of money in 20 years. Once again, even though we pay into it with all of our paychecks. But now, there is no evidence showing that many may pay more in Social Security taxes than they actually collect in benefits from the program.

So, what the Urban Institute did, when they looked at an average couple who earned an average wage during their career. So, a couple in 1990, let's say would have paid $316,000 in Social Security taxes but collected $436,000 in benefits. So, collecting more.

But that couple, if they turned 65 in 2010, they will have paid $600,000 in taxes, only collecting $579,000, $21,000 less.

The rub year is the spread is only getting bigger because what's happening is this first wave of Social Security recipients, they saw their benefits rise but guess what, how would you pay for it? There weren't big tax increases to pay for them so the system was overhauled in the 1980s, but still, these younger generations are now paying higher tax rates for the same benefits.

Social Security doesn't work like a savings account so people who work today, when we pay our taxes, we are paying for those monthly checks that are sent to retirees. (INAUDIBLE) fun, working for the government.

BERMAN: That is not so fun for us in these ages.

But iPhone talk may be more fun.

KOSIK: Yes. You know what? The best indicator that Apple is getting ready to come out with a new device is hiring. So hiring is actually ramping up at one of Apple's biggest manufacturers and "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Foxconn in China has hired about 10,000 assembly workers. That's where iPhones are mass produced and there's a lot of talk about Apple most likely coming out with a new version of the iPhone in the next few months, maybe in addition, a cheaper version of the iPhone as well.

Now, Apple certainly feeling pressure and stiff competition, coming from Samsung, which has been really grabbing a good portion of market share away from Apple. So Apple is really feeling the pressure to come out with cool, new devices and cheaper, as well to compete.

BALDWIN: Yes, lower the price point.

KOSIK: Exactly.

BALDWIN: Not cheap.


BALDWIN: Alison, thank you.

KOSIK: Sure.

BALDWIN: Now to this lawyers and doctors all over the country paying attention to this one this morning. Here's a question, can human genes be patented? The latest on this question before the U.S. Supreme Court coming up.

Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.