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American Jailed in Mexico Due in Court; Bachmann to the Future; Camilla Makes First Solo Trip Abroad; Jersey Boys Reunion; Shetland Pony Visits Liquor Store; Pacers Even Series Against Heat;

Aired May 29, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An American grandmother, a grandmother, accused of smuggling drugs in Mexico in court today. Will a judge buy her claim that she was framed?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Dangerous conditions ripe for tornadoes, hail and powerful winds today, and the storms -- these storms will be far reaching. We have the very latest.

BERMAN: And from outcast to national treasure. Once the most hated woman in England, Camilla wows on her first solo trip as queen in waiting. You can hear the whispers all across the continent.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 29, almost 30 minutes past the hour.

All right. The Arizona mother of seven accused of trying to smuggle twelve pounds of marijuana out of Mexico. She will be in court today pleading to get released from jail. Her family says Yanira Maldonado did not smuggle those drugs and she was arrested for bribe money.

CNN's Casey Wian following all the developments live for us this morning in Goodyear, Arizona.

And this family is just torn apart over this. They can't stand the thought of her sitting in a Mexican jail.

Any chance -- any chance that she's going to get out soon, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a chance she's going to get out soon, family members say they believe the court proceedings are going well. But it's still hear-wrenching talking to the family members of Yanira Maldonado who are adamant that she is wrongfully jailed in Mexico.


WIAN (voice-over): Yanira Maldonado's family hoped she would be released at a court hearing in Nogales, Mexico, Tuesday. But the Mormon mother of seven accused of smuggling marijuana will remain in a Mexican jail for at least another day. The family insists she has no involvement in drugs and is being framed.

ANNA SOTO, YANIRA'S DAUGHTER: To everyone because of this, that's who I'm angry at, the people that put my mom in prison, without having evidence.

WIAN: Maldonado was arrested last week after Mexican authorities said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under the seat of a commercial bus she was riding home in from a funeral with her husband Gary.

Gary Maldonado said he was asked to pay a $5,000 bribe for his wife's freedom. But as he tried to raise the money, she was shipped off to jail. The family says it is encouraged by the evidence presented in court so far. This case is not unusual in Mexico where there has been a struggle to modernize its notoriously corrupt judicial system says Mexico expert George Grayson.

GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: The judicial system there is even more corrupt than the police and when you're brought in to a judicial proceeding, you don't get to face your accuser. You don't have an automatic right to a lawyer, you may be held before you're brought to trial for some weeks, and it's a closed proceeding.

WIAN: In this case, the judge has the power to hold Maldonado in prison up to four months before trial. That would likely only bring more pressure from U.S. authorities. The office of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona says, "Senator Flake has been in contact with the family, as well as officials in Mexico and the U.S. regarding the case. He will continue to monitor the situation."


WIAN: It's a situation that resumes today in a Mexican courtroom where the military officers who apprehended Yanira Maldonado are expected to testify. The Mexican consulate or excuse me the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C. says it expect s the judge in the case to make a decision very soon -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Casey Wian -- thanks, Casey. We're going to hear more from Anna Soto coming up live at 8:00 on "STARTING POINT".

BERMAN: There's a dangerous threat for severe weather today and really through the rest of the week. Multiple tornadoes touched down across Kansas yesterday damaging homes, damaging power lines. Several farms in and around Corning, Kansas were hit. One was destroyed.

What's worse: the conditions are ripe to create even more threats today from tornadoes to hail to powerful winds. All in part of the country that really does not need this right now.

Our Indra Peterson's tracking all the severe weather for us. Good morning, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Unfortunately that severe weather threat is not just in the plains. We're also talking about the severe weather threat in the Northeast. I mean, you look at the temperature soaring 20, 25 degrees along that warm front that exited the area and now we're talking about the threat for severe storms in through New England, as well.

Quick touch base here toward the West Coast, want to keep in mind we've been showing you all the footage of the fires. We're still looking at gusty winds about 60 miles per hour in the California area and even seeing temperatures there soaring to the triple digits potentially by this weekend.

Here's what we continue to talk about. It's that dry air on the West Coast, really backing up against this moist air coming in out of the gulf, combining that with the jet stream one more time. All of that bringing those ripe conditions for severe storm, again, right through tornado alley. And today, there is a moderate risk, higher than the last several days.

So, unfortunately, look at the bull's eye here: about 3 million people right in the line of fire. We're talking once again through Oklahoma City, Norman, and even Wichita, Kansas. Otherwise looking at really encompassing a large area but again that more moderate risk right there, looking at that larger threat for tornadoes.

Taking a look out in the area right now, a couple storms firing up right there. Maybe through Nebraska and even through the Dakotas. It's the afternoon where we really see the sunshine filter in and get that extra boost of energy and will start to see these firing up into the evening hours, John and Christine.

BERMAN: All right, Indra we are on high alert all day. So, stay with us with the latest from that region.

Indra Petersons, thanks so much.

So, new this morning, former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann announcing overnight she will not run for a fifth term in Congress. The Minnesota Republican says her future is full, but did not announce any specific plans for what's next. Bachmann also says she had considered dropping out of running for her district seat during her presidential run but she chose to stick it out.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Given that we were only nine months away from the election, I felt it might be difficult for another Republican candidate to get organized for what might have been a very challenging campaign. And I refused to allow this decision to put this Republican seat in jeopardy. And so I ran.


BERMAN: Bachmann says her closer than expected race, and the congressional ethics probe into her presidential run, had nothing to do with her decision. Although it is worth noting that the ethics probe probably goes away since she's not running again.


All right. A congressional committee has subpoenaed State Department officials over the Benghazi talking points. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants paperwork and communications from 10 people, including the State Department's number two, the top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the department's former spokeswoman.

The House Committee says the State Department has refused multiple requests to voluntarily hand over communications that documents the attack last September killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

BERMAN: One of two wounded suspects from last week's hacking death of a British soldier is out of the hospital and in police custody. Twenty-two-year-old Michael Adebowale (ph) will be investigated by counterterrorism investigators. Eight other people were arrested in connection with the murder of Lee Rigby. Five made bail and two were released without being charged.

ROMANS: A new era for Britain's royal family as the Duchess of Cornwall practices her queen in waiting technique on her first solo trip abroad.

BERMAN: Camilla made what some are calling a bold choice as she tries to step out of the rather large shadow cast by the late Princess Di.

CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from outside Buckingham Palace, in London, with the story. Good morning, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, John. It's interesting, you can just -- you've got changing of the guard here at Buckingham Palace today, a reminder really of what a big story the royals continue to be. This is a daily event. But there are literally thousands of people, mainly tourists, who've come to see the changing of the guard.

And one day, Charles and Camilla will be in Buckingham Palace as king and queen.

It's been a slow process for Camilla to really gain public acceptance. But she's managing to do so. Her big problem, of course, is she's always lived in Princess Diana's shadow. But she's trying to change that. And this week, for the first time, she went out on her own on an international stage.


FOSTER (voice-over): The duchess at Dior, an iconic French brand, also coveted by her husband's first wife. There are obvious parallels between Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, but also stark differences. These are Camilla's first tentative steps towards defining herself outside the UK.

And luckily, there are horses at hand, Camilla's big passion. This is the duchess in her element.

She also showed her down to earth, approachable side, at a Parisian market. Traders getting a glimpse into Camilla's legendary sense of humor.

(on-camera): So, this is the piece of meat that she actually tried?


FOSTER (voice-over): "I thought she was very nice," he tells me, "very agreeable, "very in mind of her status."

(on-camera): So, the duchess came here, bought some dresses for her grandchildren. What did you think of her?

(voice-over): "She was very nice, polite. She loved everything I sold. She was very respectful."

And before she heads home, a must do for all visitors to Paris. She went to see the Mona Lisa. All this part of a long, slow emergence for a queen in waiting.


FOSTER: This is interesting, John and Christine, talking about Camilla as a grandmother. She has been described as a professional grandmother. She always takes her grandchildren very seriously and she's got a step-grandchild coming up, of course, in July -- a future king or queen as well of the United Kingdom.

ROMANS: Also, there's a big event coming up next week. The 60th anniversary of the queen's coronation. This is a chance, potentially, to see the entire royal family, right?

FOSTER: Yes, they're all out in support and they're going to go back to Westminster Abbey and relive, really, the coronation 60 years ago, really grand affair. And you're going to see all of the royals out, including William and Kate and the most focus is on Kate because people following the progress of her pregnancy very, very closely, indeed. Due in July.

ROMANS: Most famous bump in the world, I'd say, right?

BERMAN: Just around the corner. That's right.

ROMANS: Just around the corner. Max Foster. Thanks, Max.

Coming up, the president may say the Jersey shore is open for business, but some people who live there say they don't have what they need yet to rebuild. So, why is the Red Cross holding back funds raised for that effort?

BERMAN: And liquor stores with pony kegs, it's not unusual. But a liquor store with a pony walking down the aisle? That is more than a pony keg, folks. That is awesome. This is a video you need to see this morning.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Welcome back. Forty-four minutes after the hour.

Some top stories for you.

Investigators are scouring surveillance video this morning to figure out who planted an explosive device at Disneyland. The dry ice bomb went off around 5:30 yesterday afternoon at a trash can in Toontown. No one was hurt. The area was evacuated and searched and Toontown opened about two hours later.

Police say the device appears to be similar to other ones that have exploded in nearby neighborhoods in recent months.

BERMAN: Not cool. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner rising in the polls in his bid to become the next mayor of New York. Despite resigning in disgrace after sending lewd photos of himself, like this one on Twitter, a new Marist poll shows that Weiner is just five points behind Christine Quinn right now. According to the poll, 53 percent of voters believe that Weiner deserves a second chance.

ROMANS: They like redemption in American politics, don't they?

The Red Cross defending its decision to not spend more than a third of the money it raised for hurricane Sandy relief. Many residents of hard hit coastal communities say, hey, they could use some help. But the Red Cross says it would rather spend the remaining $100 million wisely, rather than quickly.

BERMAN: So, President Obama and Governor Chris Christie toured the Jersey Shore on Tuesday, promoting a big summer comeback from superstorm Sandy, a credit they say to cooperation between federal and state governments. So, this is kind of an unlikely political marriage forged in the days following the massive storm, but as CNN's Jessica Yellin reports, it's not without its risk.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The political odd couple together again.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me, first of all, say thank you to Governor Christie for that introduction and the great work he's done here.

YELLIN: Visiting a reopened boardwalk and facing off at an arcade game where the president went 0 for 5.

OBAMA: Little high. Oh, well done.

YELLIN: But no worries. The governor won him a stuffed bear. The Obama-Christie political bromance started days after superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey, and the president promised --

OBAMA: We will not quit until this is done.

YELLIN: Since then, the federal government has poured more than $3 billion into the state. For a governor facing re-election, this visit is a chance to highlight progress rebuilding after the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty amazing what they've done.

YELLIN: And win some free media for the shore.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Welcome back to the Jersey Shore.

OBAMA: The Jersey Shore is back, and it is open for business.

YELLIN: That's got to be a plus for Christie who was slammed for spending $25 million in federal funds on this ad campaign.

CHRISTIE: Because we're stronger than the storm.

YELLIN: The president's return is not without long-term political risks for New Jersey's Republican governor. Just months after he welcomed the president last time, he was not invited back to the annual gathering of conservatives known as CPAC, important to GOP presidential hopefuls.

And the latest visit should offer plenty of fresh material for future GOP attack ads. But so far, in this blue state, his bipartisan approach has been a political plus.

WILL WRIGHT, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: I really admire the fact that him and the president work together, and that's the way they should be working together in Washington.

YELLIN: Since Sandy, Christie's poll numbers have risen 15 points, now at 69 percent approval in the latest survey. The governor told NBC News, when the president wants to visit --

CHRISTIE: I'm the governor. I'll be here to welcome him.

YELLIN: -- this resident who is also a little league coach, says that dieting Mr. Christie should apply his governing principles to his waistline.

WRIGHT: I suggest to him that he's just got to get in a training program and just stick to it like he's sticking to his problems with helping the people here in New Jersey.

YELLIN (on-camera): The president had something to gain from this visit also. It gave him a chance to pivot away from the controversies in Washington and focus on an example of government working.

Jessica Yellin, CNN, traveling with the president in Asbury Park, New Jersey.


ROMANS: OK. You're going to love this one, John. Customers inside a liquor store in Rhode Island may have wanted --

BERMAN: I like it already. ROMANS: -- that drink after seeing a Shetland pony --


ROMANS: -- sauntering down the aisle.


ROMANS: Look at this. Surveillance video shows 51-year-old William Saviano (ph) leading his pony through the store as he shopped for some wine. A sign outside the store now says no dogs or cats or horses allowed. It was just a pony. Come on.


BERMAN: You have to take your Shetland pony everywhere, I suppose.

ROMANS: That was a very well behaved Shetland pony.

BERMAN: I've never seen a Shetland pony in a liquor store so well- behaved.


BERMAN: Ahead on EARLY START, Justin Bieber back in trouble again. Oh, no. This time, reckless driving. We're going to have the details coming up.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Charlie Sheen going back to his roots. He's using his real name, Carlos Estevez, in the movie posters for his new movie, "Machete Kills." No word on why the name change.

BERMAN: So, from the Amanda Bynes meltdown file it grows ever stranger, the actress with another Twitter rant, this time targeting Courtney Love for some reason. Love tweeted that Bynes needs to pull it together. So Bynes responded, "Courtney Love is the ugliest woman I've ever seen." She doesn't hold back.

ROMANS: No, she doesn't. I mean -- let's talk about Justin Bieber, shall we? Justin Bieber's neighbors near Los Angeles claim he's using the neighborhood streets as his own test track. For the second time in two months, Bieber is being investigated for reckless driving. There he is. Police say one of the witnesses who's complained about Bieber speeding around their gated community in his white Ferrari is former NFL star, Keyshawn Johnson.

BERMAN: And Johnson's really upset, apparently.

All right. So, San Antonio Spurs are going to have to wait a little longer to find out who they will face in the NBA finals. The Pacers taking the Heat down last night to even the series at two games apiece.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes. Good morning, guys. It looks like everyone's going to need to pump the brakes on all that Heat/Spurs NBA finals talk as the Pacers once again showing last night that they're not going to go down without a fight. Last night's game four was another knockdown, drag out battle from the opening tip. And Indiana used their size and interior strength to control the paint for the entire game.

Now, Lebron led all scorers with 24 points, but with the Heat down four with 56 seconds to go, he fouled out on this moving screen. This is just the second time ever that Lebron has fouled out in a playoff game. The Heat, they would fail to score without Lebron the rest of the way as the Pacers went on to win the game 99-92 to even the series. After the game, Lebron clearly not happy, but he refused to blame the officials for the loss.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: It was a couple, you know, calls that I didn't feel like you know, were fouls personal fouls on me, but that's how the game goes.


SCHOLES: Earlier this year, Nike dropped all of their endorsements of Lance Armstrong in the wake of his admission to using performance enhancing drugs. Now, the company is further cutting ties with Armstrong announcing that it will stop manufacturing Livestrong brand shoes and apparel at the end of this year.

Over the last decade, Nike has helped Livestrong raise over $100 million, mostly through the sale of those popular yellow bracelets. And while it will not be manufacturing products for Livestrong anymore, Nike says they will continue to contribute to the foundation.

The first place Boston Red Sox were back in action last night hosting the Phillies at Fenway, and what a great moment before the game. Jeff Baumann who lost both his legs in the Boston marathon bombings and the man in the cowboy hat who came to his rescue, Carlos Arredondo (ph), were both on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Now, together, Bowman (ph) was -- or Bowman (ph) was one of the people who helped law the enforcement identify the Boston bombing suspects. He and Arredondo both fired in strikes right there together. What a great moment for both of these (INAUDIBLE).

Over the years, Shaquille O'Neal had his own shoe, his own logo, and his own TV show. Now, Shaq has his own drink. Yes, that's right. Shaq tweeted out a pick of his new cream soda line yesterday. It's called Soda Shaq. You can get this new drink in four different flavors, guys, strawberry, orange, vanilla, and blueberry.

I'm not a big cream soda fan, but I think I'm going to have to try this one out. Not sure which flavor I'm going to go with yet. You have any takers on that?

BERMAN: You know, the blue one. Blueberry.


BERMAN: Shaquille O'Neal is so underexposed? When you say, Andy, I mean, gosh! If only that guy could get some publicity for himself.

SCHOLES: I know, right?

ROMANS: I don't think it's publicity. I think he's a good businessman. I think he thinks business deals better than he thinks free throws.

BERMAN: Well, he shot less than 50 percent from the line, so I hope he's better at business than free throws.


ROMANS: And that's all I know about basketball. Thanks, Andy. Nice to see you.

BERMAN: All right. That's EARLY START for this morning. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" begins right after this break.