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Threat of Tornadoes; Michael Jackson Bombshell; Frozen Mammoth Discovered, Best Specimen Yet; Spelling Bee Champ Crowned Tonight

Aired May 30, 2013 - 06:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A bombshell in the Michael Jackson wrongful death suit. Why newly revealed e-mails could end up costing concert giant AEG billions. You'll hear it only on CNN.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And the video that captivated the world. An infant rescued cut out of a sewer pipe. This morning, that baby boy headed home. And we have new information that his mother will not be charged. We have an update live from China.

ROMANS: And video you have to see to believe. Two years of planning for a 60-second base jump off Mt. Everest. That incredible story is coming up.

BERMAN: And that incredible lunacy coming up.

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

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

A dangerous weather threat growing this morning in a lot of states are in its path. Many of those states are the same ones that were dealt a very big severe weather blow just a few days ago. People in central and southeastern Michigan surveying the damage after tornadoes destroyed homes and up rooted trees last night and more, more is on the way.

BERMAN: In Amarillo, Texas, strong storms brought down a pool company's legendary billboard. But the slide on top of the side amazingly stayed on.

The severe weather damaged two pools of the business and tore down a radio tower and some skylights.

ROMANS: And check out this video. Weather drama on the field during last night's Texas Rangers/Arizona Diamondbacks game.

Watch this -- the Rangers ground crew rushing to get a tarp on the field struggling to control it. And then, you know, rain, wind, lightning moved in. The scary weather postponed -- obviously, postponed that game.

BERMAN: That is terrifying and dangerous for the grounds crew right there.

ROMANS: Yes. BERMAN: Amazing.

All right. There seems to be no relief for the storm here. These pictures are coming from all across the country.

Our meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking all of this for us outside in the heat wave here in the east today.

Hey, Indra.


It feels pretty good right now. I mean, temperatures, they're in the 70s. About 70 percent humidity. So, sticky factor is here.

I've been checking everyone out here we behind me. I want to know if they got the memo. I'm seeing the shorts. They know. It is expected to be in the 90s today with all that humidity, sticky weather definitely in the forecast. A heat wave, in fact, really for three days we're looking for these temperatures in to the 90s. Eh, definitely sticky. Good 15, 20 degrees above normal.

So, we are talking about the severe weather. It's warm moist air banking up with the dry air. Unfortunately, we're concerned where the dry line is. That's the separation, of course, between the moist air and dry air. And, of course, it looks to be just west of Oklahoma City today. So, with that looking for a severe threat to be enhanced.

There is who at risk today. We're talking about really kind of shifting to the east of the threat going to Missouri, all the way down through Texas. That's a good 15 million of us still at risk for severe weather.

We're talking not only tornadoes but strong winds out there. We see a lot of damage and straight line winds and even large hail that remains in the forecast as well. With that, of course, we're talking heavy rain.

So, we already saw the Midwest pounded earlier. Now looks like more heavy rain continue to inundate the area. So flood threats are in the forecast. There some severity right now, severe thunderstorm watches are already here and it looks like it only get rougher as we go to the afternoon today.


BERMAN: Yes, not welcome news.

All right. Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Tropical storm Barbara withering away down in Mexico. That storm came ashore as a hurricane packing 75-mile-an-hour winds. Barbara could dump up to 20 inches of rain in some spots before dissipating later in the week.

ROMANS: So it's a stunning piece of evidence that could help determine the outcome of the Jackson family's lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live. An e-mail from AEG Live's co-chairman says that Michael Jackson's personal physician, Conrad Murray, needed to get Jackson in shape to perform on stage. CNN obtaining the deposition exclusively.


BERMAN (voice-over): A potential bombshell in the trial against AEG, the concert promoter managing Michael Jackson's "This Is It" comeback tour.

AEG has long contended that they did not hire Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of administering the lethal dose of the anesthetic Propofol to Jackson. Instead, AEG has maintained that it was the King of Pop that hired Murray.

But in an e-mail, the Jackson family attorneys are calling the smoking gun, co-CEO of AEG Live Paul Gongaware, allegedly pressured Murray into having Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his ailing health.

Gongaware writes, quote, "We want to remind Murray that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him."

Gongaware says he doesn't recall the message.

PAUL GONGAWARE, AEG LIVE CO-CEO: I don' remember this e-mail.

BERMAN: CNN has exclusively obtained Gongaware's videotaped deposition that was shown to the jury.

JACKSON LAWYER: Based on the assumptions that AEG is your company and MJ is Michael Jackson, do you have an understanding of what that means?

GONGAWARE: No, I don't understand it because we weren't paying his salary.

JACKSON LAWYER: So, why would you write that?

GONGAWARE: I have no idea.

JACKSON LAWYER: Let's go on to the next sentence. When you say his salary, who are you talking about?

GONGAWARE: I don't know.

BERMAN: CNN digital reporter Alan Duke has been in the courtroom since the beginning of the trial.

ALAN DUKE, CNN DIGITAL REPORTER: To watch Paul Gongaware try to dance around it and explain this e-mail was very interesting in court. At times today, there was laughter because of his -- the perception of his evasiveness.

BERMAN: The Jackson family is suing AEG, stating they negligently hired and supervised Murray who is serving time for involuntary manslaughter. If AEG is found liable, it could cost the company billions of dollars.


BERMAN: So much money at stake here. You know, Paul Gongaware's long career as a concert promoter began with Elvis Presley's final concerts. He's currently managing the Rolling Stone's North American tour.

And in his testimony, Gongaware said that Rick James is the only artist he ever knew who was using drugs on tour.

ROMANS: Staff Sergeant Robert Bales about to plead guilty to the massacre of 16 Afghan villagers in order to avoid the death penalty. Bales lawyer says military prosecutors at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state have agreed to this plea, but a spokesman for the base would only say a plea hearing is set for next week. The gruesome shooting spree last year is considered to be the deadliest war crime by a single U.S. soldier after 9/11.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-six minutes after the hour.

And this is a stunning discovery out of a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. I think my son will love this news.


BERMAN: The frozen body of a female woolly mammoth that could be up to 15,000 years old. That is unbelievable. And get this -- the carcass was so well preserved in ice that Russian scientists said that blood was still flowing freely out of it.

The muscle tissue recovered was virtually fresh. Scientists call this the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology.


BERMAN: That is incredibly cool.

ROMANS: Fifteen thousand years old.

BERMAN: Amazing.

All right. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour.

Now, coming up, new information that dramatic rescue of a newborn from a sewer pipe. Who he's headed home with and why his mother likely will not get in any trouble. We're in China live, next.

ROMANS: And leap off Mt. Everest and into the record books. The incredible base jumping video you don't want to miss this morning, it's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. New information this morning about that newborn in China that was rescued from a sewer pipe. The baby boy has left the hospital after being nursed back to health. Police also say that the child's mother will not -- not be charge with a crime.

CNN's David McKenzie joins us now on the phone from China.

So, David, where is this baby this morning?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): John, the baby is with its -- the maternal grandparents, baby 59 doesn't have a name yet, this newborn miraculously rescued from a sewer piper earlier this week.

Now, police are telling us that they're not going to charge the mother. They say that this is really just an awful accident, that the mother is a young mother. She -- her boyfriend and her broke up six months ago. She felt ashamed. She felt -- not sure what to do.

Unexpectedly, according to the police and the teenager giving birth and basically panicking, calling the landlord, calling the police that came over and rescued the child. Certainly some unanswered questions still but, John, it does seem like the child is doing fine, that the mother and the family is asking for privacy and this could have been really terrible accident.

BERMAN: Police calling it an accident. That seems awfully hard to believe, David. But that aside, what is the reaction from the Chinese public?

MCKENZIE: The reaction from the public, a lot of soul-searching going on about this, just blaming the mother, also giving sympathies to the mother as well. There's a lot of taboo here about people having children outside of being married. So, that definitely seems to play into this situation. While the mother certainly many people saying was negligent, of course, they did say that she faced some difficult choices.

She didn't want her parents to know what that she was pregnant, was in this terrible situation. Also, some sympathy from her and certainly also a lot of sympathy for the boy and lot of relief that he will be OK.

BERMAN: Relief, I think, all around the world that that boy will be OK and gratitude to the surgeons and the workers who so bravely rescued him from that sewer pipe.

All right. David McKenzie in China for us this morning, thank you so much.

ROMANS: Forty-three minutes after the hour.

Here in the U.S., yellow school buses are a common sight but in some countries, the lack of transportation can make it hard to get to school. The CNN film "Girl Rising" deals with the challenges some girls face getting an education. Today, we introduce you to a young girl from a small mountain village in Peru.


EULALIA (through translator): My name is Eulalia. I have six brothers and sisters. Where I live, there are no schools.

Every Monday, we ride on motorcycle to go to my school. When my dad is not home, I walk to school. It takes two hours.

EDWIN, EULALIA'S FATHER (through translator): I want to help Eulalia go to school because I want her to have a better education than mine.

EULALIA: I like math, especially multiplying. During the week, I sleep in the school dorms. For me, it's difficult to be far from my parents. When I am with my classmates, they make me smile.

On Saturday and Sunday, when I'm at home, I do my homework with my mother.

MARUJA, EULALIA'S MOTHER (through translator): She teaches me addition, subtraction, things like that. I can't read very well, either, so she shows me how to read.

EULALIA: I want to be a teacher.


ROMANS: To learn about the organization that helps this young girl attend school and the 10 X 10 Fund for Girls Education, go to

The CNN film "Girl Rising" premiers June 16th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: EARLY START back right after the break.


BERMAN: So, it was a big night for some young spelling all-stars after this news -- this afternoon semifinals. Twelve kids will compete for title of spelling bee champion as CNN's Athena Jones reports. This year's event is really more challenging than ever as if it needed to be even more challenging. There is now a new twist.



ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who will win the coveted title of National Spelling Champion?



JONES: We'll find out tonight in the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Nearly 300 contestants came to Washington from all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and eight countries, including the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, China, and Japan. The winner gets a trophy, a $30,000 cash prize, and maybe even a picture with the president.

SHREYAS PARAS, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Overall, I think I've learned around 4,000, 5,000 words.

JONES: This year, a new rule added to the challenge. To advance to the semifinals and finals, competitors had to know not just how to spell a word but also what it means, which meant more studying. Can you define weissnichtwo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then the vocab came along, I thought, this is going to be harder than I thought.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that just kind of might of overwhelmed me a little bit. It was definitely -- it made things a lot harder.

JONES: After two computer based tests and two preliminary rounds, 42 contestants get a chance to vie for the title this afternoon in the semifinal. And no more than 12 are expected to advance to tonight's championship finals. It's a real cliff-hanger.





JONES (on-camera): And that word I mentioned, weissnichtwo, it means an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place, in case you were wondering -- John, Christine.

BERMAN: I have no idea what they just said.


BERMAN: There were like a lot of words there I know zero percent of them.

ROMANS: And we couldn't work any of them into anything we're talking about this morning. All right. Thanks, Athena.

Tiger Woods gearing up to defend his title this weekend at the memorial tournament, but all everyone want to talk about is his ongoing spat with Sergio Garcia.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes now with the "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes. Good morning, guys. Tiger spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since Sergio made that racially insensitive remark last week in England. And he says he expects this controversy to end whether he speaks with Sergio or not.

The war of words between these two started back at the Players Championship when they were paired together in the third round and it became more heated last week when Sergio made a fried chicken comment when referring to spending time with Woods. Now, Sergio who's not playing in the memorial has since apologized publicly and to Tiger's agent for the remark.

And while Tiger said he is done talking about Sergio, yesterday, he did speak about dealing with racial issues during his career.


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I live it. It's happened my entire -- entire life. And, it's happened my entire career. So, that doesn't surprise me. It exists all around the world, not just in the sport of golf. It exists everywhere.


SCHOLES: Tiger tees off today at 1:16 eastern in round one at the memorial.

In the NHL playoffs last night, it was winner take all between the Blackhawks and Red Wings in game seven of the western conference semifinals. Two minutes to go in the third, Niklas Hjalmarsson scores. Chicago thinks they've won, but the goal was waved off because of penalties behind the play. We will go to overtime.

In the extra period, Brent Seabrook risk shot, wins it for the Blackhawkss. They become just the 21st team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. And for just the second time in NHL history, the final four teams remaining in the playoffs are the four most recent Stanley Cup winners.

The long ball was definitely on display last night in Baltimore. Nationals third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, he only had three home runs coming into the game, but by the end of the night, he would have double that.

Zimmerman homered in his first three at bats. Usually, a three-home run game from one player would lead to a victory, but the Orioles, Chris Davis, hit two himself. He now leads with (ph) 19 homeruns. Baltimore wins the slug fest, 9-6.

So, one of the top stories in the lineup of right now features the most amazing juggling of a golf ball you will ever see. Check this ridiculous trick out. The golfer's name is Romain Bechu (ph). And guys, he's currently ranked 1550th in the world right now. But he's got to be number one when it comes to golf juggling. These are just amazing tricks.

He can do spinning the ball right there on the top of the club. Just amazing. You know, you saw Tiger Woods and that old Nike commercial back in 1999 doing some of these and he seemed to do this the other way around. He perfected the golf game, then started working on the juggling. Bechu seems to be doing it the other way around. He was seemed to be juggling more than working on the golf with his ranking being so low.

BERMAN: Juggle it into the hole, maybe he'll have something.


BERMAN: All right. Andy Scholes, that's amazing. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Incredible video to show you this morning. Take a look at 48-year-old Russian base jumper, Valery Rozov, leaping off Mt. Everest. He made this record shattering descent on May 5th to commemorate the anniversary of the first assent of Everest. The feat (ph) took two years of planning, four days of arduous trekking, and then about a minute for the actual jump.

In that 60 seconds, he reached speeds of 125 miles per hour, soaring down more than 23,000 feet, four miles. He's a seasoned daredevil, of course. He's made nearly 10,000 jumps, including one into an active volcano, but he said this one was particularly tough both physically and mentally.

BERMAN: Would you do that?

ROMANS: No, I wouldn't hike up. I wouldn't jump off. I wouldn't go so fast. I wouldn't be -- I don't like to be cold. I don't like to work too hard.

BERMAN: So, that's a maybe?

ROMANS: That's absolute no.


BERMAN: All right. That is all for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. "Starting Point" begins right after this break.



BERMAN (voice-over): In our "Starting Point" this morning, outbreak, twisters, giant hail, flash floods, all wreaking havoc from Texas to New England. Look at this. Water busting through the doors of this college building. Unbelievable. We have more severe weather on tap for today. If you are in this red section on this map, it is going to be a scorcher.

ROMANS (voice-over): All right. Desperate plea. The American mother jailed in Mexico on what she calls made up drug charges, she speaks out to CNN from behind bars.

YANIRA MALDONADO, DETAINED IN MEXICO: I need to be with my family. I need to be out of here. I need to go home.

ROMANS: Hear her emotional side of the story for the very first time.

BERMAN: It is tough to hear.

Also, CNN exclusive. In this video the smoking gun in the trial over Michael Jackson's death, could it be? The Jackson Family thinks so, and it could bring them millions of dollars. You can see it only here.

ROMANS: And love, hate, and Adam Levine. "The Voice" superstar sparks a fire storm when he's caught on a hot mic saying he hates America. This morning, his explanation.


ROMANS (on-camera): Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, May 30th. Welcome to "Starting Point." And we begin with what is turning into one wild and turbulent spring across the entire country. So, if you weren't dodging hail and thunderstorms last night, you may be today. And if you're in the northeast, it's going to be really, really, really hot. Meteorologist, Indra Petersons, is here with a look at that.

PETERSONS: Yes, unbelievable. Storms have hit the country hard this weekend, and it looks like there's going to be much more still on the way.


PETERSONS (on-camera): Storms rage from Texas all the way to New England and had nearly half of the country in the danger zone.