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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Extreme Weather; Woman Jailed in Mexico Speaking Out; Unwelcome Moments; Unwelcome Visitor; Tornado Relief Concert; Prancercising

Aired May 30, 2013 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Kansas. Bennington, Kansas. A wedge tornado on the ground doing damage. Another storm, another tornado not that far from Coring, Kansas. That when we really arrived on the ground. That's when we landed in Wichita and planned on driving all the way to Dodge City yesterday. So we drove to Dodge City, hooked up with some storm chasers that were kind of doing some scientific research.

Saw Virginia Tech chasers there as well. They were doing research for their meteorology program. Then we got down into Texas and the storms popped. They just blew up and moved right over the top of us. And we got hit by hail. We got hit by hail so loud that I couldn't talk to the driver of the car. My photographer was driving, he couldn't shoot any pictures, because he was driving.

But the producer behind us, driving behind us took the pictures here. It was so loud in this car, we were yelling just to try to communicate, try to get this car out of this hail core, and this is what we're going to see again today. We'll have -- with the moisture in the air, we're waiting for sunshine.

The sunshine is the key, John and Christine. When the sunshine comes out, you think, wow, this is going to be great, this is going to be a great day because it's warm. The warm is the problem. Like a hot air balloon, the warm air that the sun creates wants to go up, like a big bubble, like a big hot air balloon.

When the sun comes out, it warms the ground, the ground warms the air, that air goes up and the storms get bigger. We expect big storms in this area again today, a place that's already been hit, obviously that we know, very, very hard.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Chad Myers for us in Oklahoma City.

So pay attention to the warnings today, Chad, because obviously --

MYERS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Could be more trouble in that region. Appreciate it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. For the first time, the Arizona mother of seven accused of trying to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana is now speaking out from inside a Mexican jail. The soldiers who arrested Yanira Maldonado were supposed to appear in court Wednesday, but defense attorneys say they never showed up. Hearings in the case will resume now tomorrow.

CNN's Rafael Romo is the first reporter to interview Maldonado in jail. And he's joining us live this morning from Nogales, Arizona, it's along the U.S. border with Mexico.

She was so emotional. She wants authorities and the world to know that -- she says she's innocent.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: That's right, Christine. Good morning. Something that I personally found especially sad about what she was telling me, she said that last Saturday was her first wedding anniversary. Yanira Maldonado and her husband Gary had big plans to celebrate the occasion. Instead, she found herself behind bars.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO (voice-over): Yanira Maldonado was emotional from the moment she saw us, escorted into the prison administrator's office to be interviewed.

YANIRA MALDONADO, DETAINED IN MEXICO: I'm not a criminal. I'm just here by mistake because people are not doing their work. This is not right. I need to be back with my family. I need to be out of here. I need to go home.

ROMO: Maldonado and her husband were returning by bus from the funeral of her aunt when Mexican soldiers stopped the vehicle at this checkpoint. Passengers were taken off and the bus searched. The soldiers said they found several packages of marijuana under her seat, 5.7 kilos, more than 12 pounds, and she says asked her to pay $5,000.

MALDONADO: It's a lie what they're saying. And they say they found something under my seat, but I never saw anything, they didn't show me anything. It was -- it's just amazing, all the -- what they did.

ROMO: Maldonado says authorities did not make it clear at first that she was a suspect. But she knew she was in trouble when federal agents started questioning her husband and her.

MALDONADO: I was in shock when they said that it was me they want because first they said that it was -- that it was -- it was my husband.

ROMO: Taken into Mexican federal custody, she was transferred to this state prison last Friday, where she is being held in a temporary cell away from other inmates. Family members have been allowed brief visits.

(On camera): Now your husband Gary and children are going to be listening to this and watching you. What do you want to tell them?

MALDONADO: That I love them very much. That I'm going to -- they know that I'm innocent.

ROMO (voice-over): And that belief is also helped by a Mexican state official with extensive knowledge of the case who told CNN it would have been almost impossible for her to carry that much marijuana on to the bus without someone noticing.

MALDONADO: They have cameras in the -- on the terminal in the bus. And they haven't checked that. Why they don't check for fingerprints -- I don't have my fingerprint are not on that package or whatever they are saying that they found.

ROMO: Maldonado says she has not been mistreated, but she's rethinking the advice she used to give to friends about traveling to Mexico on vacation.

MALDONADO: I used to tell people, come to Mexico, it's not true what they're saying. I go every year to visit my family. And look what's happening to me now.

ROMO: All this devout Mormon can do now, she says, is pray.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO: And hearings in her case will continue this morning across the border from where I'm standing, actually just a few hundred feet from here. Yesterday, the soldiers who found the packages of marijuana under her seat were expected to testify. That did not happen so that's considered a victory of sorts for the defense -- Christine.

ROMANS: What is her mood like? What is -- I mean, she's obviously emotional there. She, you know, is trying to sort of get out her side of the story. But I mean, she seemed to be bearing up. I mean, what is her mood really?

ROMO: What she told me, when I asked her, how are you holding up? She said I'm surviving because I have a lot of faith in God and I'm reading scripture, but I am very, very sad about the situation. She repeatedly said that this is an injustice, what's happened to me. She was pointing to the fact that she did not get access to an attorney within the first 24 hours after her arrest. That authorities have not checked surveillance cameras both at the bus station and inside the bus that she was traveling in.

So a number of different irregularities that have happened and she says due process did not happen the way it's supposed to -- Christine.

ROMANS: Is there any specific information that she has, that she's been received that would indicate her release from prison is imminent?

ROMO: She's very hopeful that on Friday, when a third period of 72 hours, and I need to explain this to you. She has already requested two extensions to a 72-hour period by Mexican law, that is established, so that the defense can gather more evidence. We're now on number three, that expires on Friday.

By then, the judge may make a ruling, essentially what the family is hoping is that they will say that the evidence presented by the defense so far is compelling enough that they can set her free. But, again, that's only hope and there is no guarantee that that will indeed happen -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Rafael Romo in Nogales, Arizona, thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour, let's run through some of the top stories today.

Attorney General Eric Holder's plans to meet with media to discuss how to handle investigations into White House leaks, that's hit a snag. Major news organizations, including the Associated Press, "The New York Times" and "Huffington Post" say they will not take part if the meetings are off the record.

We should also mentioned CNN had declined to participate if the meetings are off the record.

The Justice Department says they're off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas. Holder is under fire for two cases involving secret subpoenas for searches of journalist phone records and other information if they're believed to be involved in reports about leaked classified information.

ROMANS: The death of a 15-year-old girl was a kidnapping gone horribly wrong according to Maine authorities. Court papers revealed that 20-year-old Kyle Dube intended to kidnap the victim, Niccole Cable, hide her in the woods and then later find her so he could be the hero. But Cable's body was found last week. She apparently had frequent contact with Dube through a bogus social media account. He is now charged with murder.

BERMAN: The sheriff's department in Sterling, Virginia, is standing by the use of deadly force by two of its deputies in a Costco store. Employees called police after a woman contractor, who was serving pizza slices, she started acting strangely when she refused to put down a knife she was holding. They actually tased her, but she kept coming at them. At least four shots were fired. The woman, 38 years old, died. One of the deputies was treated for injuries that may have come from a ricocheting bullet.

Want you to take a look at this. Extraordinary new video of a base jumper leading off of Mount Everest. That is stunning indeed. Forty- eight-year-old Valery Rozov made the record shattering descent on May 5th to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest.

The feat took two years of planning, four days of trekking and just 60 sections for the actual jump. That's because he was going wicked fast. Rozov reached speeds of 125 miles per hour, soaring down more than 23,000 feet. That's over four miles. That's fast. That's pretty scary. The seasoned daredevil has made nearly 10,000 jumps, including one into an active volcano.

ROMANS: Wow. A whole bunch of those steps I wouldn't do.

BERMAN: You're shaking. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: The planning, the climb, the -- yes.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, to save her dog, her daughter, and herself, get this, a woman takes on a 200-pound black bear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON FLANNERY, FOUGHT OFF BEAR IN HER HOME: I kicked it, I kicked it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: She kicked it. Her fearless encounter, next.

BERMAN: And music superstars from country to pop come together raising money for the Oklahoma tornado victims. We'll bring you the highlights of really this emotional moment with Miranda Lambert that everyone is talking about.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: A Connecticut woman is recovering this morning after a run-in with a black bear. But she wasn't out for a hike. This bear decided to pay a visit to her West Hartford home and the bear went after the woman's dog.

CNN's Pamela Brown here with this really frightening story.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Talk about being fearless. When this woman was confronted by the 200-pound bear, instead of running away like we would probably do, she kicked it near the face. All in an effort to protect her dog.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): It was the backyard surprise nobody would want.

FLANNERY: It was a really a deep throaty growl.

BROWN: Sharon Flannery was in her Hartford, Connecticut, home when her daughter spotted this giant black bear.

FLANNERY: My daughter yells there's a bear. And so I open the door, and my little dog, who was running from the neighbor's yard, hops the fence and comes bee lining it right into the house and then there's this huge bear, right there.

BROWN: And the bear didn't stop. The female bear charged the house, chasing the dog, trying to get in after it. Sharon couldn't close the door fully and the bear was almost in the home with her. Its mouth open, her leg almost in it. That's when Sharon did the only thing she could.

FLANNERY: I kicked it. I kicked it. And then it kind of looked and I screamed again, and then it went running off.

BROWN: She ended up with puncture wounds and scratches on her legs, her dog, however, unharmed. She immediately called in officials who were able to find the bear, but ultimately had to euthanized it. The bear had killed a dog in the neighborhood before.

For Flannery, it was a terrifying encounter.

FLANNERY: I definitely don't want to get that close to one again. That was -- that was once, yes, that was enough.

BROWN: For her son, mom's actions were nothing short of heroic.

WILL FIERSTON, SHARON FLANNERY'S SON: It's pretty impressive. I don't know if I would have had, you know, the confidence to kick a bear in the face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: A lot of us probably wouldn't. And officials say they had to euthanize the bear because they needed to test it for rabies due to Flannery's puncture wounds. The black bear was with her two cubs during the encounter. But the cubs were tranquilized and then eventually released into a wooded area.

BERMAN: That's good news.

BROWN: Yes.

BERMAN: I know that I would not kick a bear.

ROMANS: No.

BERMAN: That would not be my first option.

BROWN: That would not be my bet.

BERMAN: I would scream and then I would run.

BROWN: Run exactly.

BERMAN: And then I would scream again. And maybe after that I would think about kicking. But there are like five things I would do and four of them involve screaming.

BROWN: (inaudible) will do the kicking part.

ROMANS: John Berman, our hero.

BERMAN: I'm there for you guys. Just so you know.

BROWN: I'll call on you whenever a bear is chasing after me.

BERMAN: I will keep you safe by screaming very loud.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Pamela.

From big and scary to too tall and too cute -- check out this extremely rare set of baby twin giraffes. They are just starting to take their first baby steps. The brother and sister named Nakato and Wasswa were born on a wild life preserve in Texas earlier this month.

BERMAN: They look so much alike.

ROMANS: Are you afraid of them too?

BERMAN: No they're actually cute. I'm a big fan of twins and giraffes.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, so the exercise fad that will make you ask why? Why? This is very real and it's coming for you. Hide the kids.

Then Blake Shelton gathered famous friends to raise money for the Oklahoma tornado victims. We've got the highlights, including this duet with Usher. That's next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: A tearful Miranda Lambert welling up there as she tries to sing at last night's concert to benefit people who were -- their homes destroyed in Oklahoma City. Her husband, the country singer and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton organized last night's show, which featured many of music's biggest stars.

CNN's Nischelle Turner live in Oklahoma City with a wrap up of a very special show. It was emotional, emotional for Miranda Lambert.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes.

ROMANS: Emotional for Blake Shelton, for everyone there last night.

TURNER: Well, you know Miranda and Blake still live in Oklahoma, Christine. They live in Tishomingo, which is about two hours south here of Oklahoma City. But yes it really did affect her as it did so many people. You know it's a really different scene here at Chesapeake Energy Arena this morning much quieter because last night as you saw, it was all about community, country music, and Sooner spirit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER (voice over): Some of the music industry's biggest stars coming together to help those affected most by last week's deadly tornado in Oklahoma.

BLAKE SHELTON, COUNTRY SINGER: I lost my way -- TURNER: Country singer and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton along with wife Miranda Lambert performing at the televised relief concert.

GARY LEVOX, RASCAL FLATTS: When Blake you know gave us the call, we just dropped what we were doing and here we are --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we said, honestly we saw the voice mail first. It was Blake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it was just for me a no brainer, I was coming if I was asked.

TURNER: The benefit featuring Shelton's fellow "The Voice" judge Usher, Rascal Flatts, Reba McIntire, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill and many more sold out in less than five minutes. For many performing at the star-studded event the catastrophic damage hit especially close to home.

VINCE GILL, COUNTRY SINGER: Where I grew up is maybe ten miles north of where the path came through.

RYAN TEDDER, ONE REPUBLIC: And so many Oklahomans here today that it's -- it's kind of cool I mean, I'm -- I think I'm the one non- country Oklahoman representing today.

TURNER: A night of charity and hope at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, just a short distance from the tornado-ravaged town of Moore.

REBA MCINTIRE, COUNTRY SINGER: We had a hard time deciding what songs to do. Because are we going to go for the heartfelt, are we going to be crying and sad? Without that we didn't want to do that.

LEVOX: Oklahoma's initials are OK, and they're going to be ok.

JAY DEMARCUS, RASCAL FLATTS: We're literally building houses tonight, which is incredible.

MCINTIRE: Hang in there, you're tough, you're Okies and you know that. You persevere and you go on and you help others. You always have, and you always will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER: Well said, Reba McIntire. Now there isn't a word yet on just how much money was raised last night but the proceeds go to the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornado Relief Fund. And you'd have to think Christine any amount raised is a plus to help it. And the music and the giving doesn't stop because tonight it's the big Boston Strong Concert in Boston.

ROMANS: That's right.

TURNER: So more music, more giving, more helping.

ROMANS: All right, thanks Nischelle I'm glad you could be there for us.

BERMAN: Nischelle points out that Boston Strong Concert; some iconic voices will be singing for their city tonight. That money will go to support the marathon bombing victims. Steven Tyler and Aerosmith among the headliners, also Jay Gilles Band and New Kids on the Block -- the proceeds from the concert will support the One Fund Boston Charity established to help those affected by the bombings.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT could "Prancercising," that's right, "Prancercising" the next big fitness craze. Berman has been trying it out on the breaks. The hilarious workout video is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. So there is a trail blazing workout setting the Internet on fire. It is called prancercise. Now it might look crazy to you at first, but when you take a much closer look and crazy does not begin to cut it.

We have to explain more. Jeanne Moos has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Loud horses couldn't keep us from reporting on this new exercise routine. Why exercise when you can prancercise? Is it a workout or is it a spoof? Definitely something to behold -- let's pick up the pace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the prancercise trot. It's really hot.

MOOS: The outfit, the jewelry, the '80s style. Is this real? When you prancercise what's it make you feel like?

JOANNA ROHRBACK, CREATOR, PRANCERCISE: It makes me feel liberated.

MOOS: 60-year-old, Joanna Rohrback of Florida invented prancerciseing 25 years ago.

ROHRBACK: It didn't start catching on until this week I think.

MOOS: When blogs started featuring the video she put on line last year, she had already written a book and created a Web site. She describes prancercise as --

ROHRBACK: Springy rhythmic movement forward, similar to a horse's gait, ideally induced by elation.

MOOS: She is he elated by the web's sudden discovery of prancercise even if much of the commentary is mocking.

On "Huffington Post," her fitness routine was put on the comedy page.

The web though can be kind of harsh?

ROHRBACK: I understand but you know what; I'll take all of it -- the harsh, the goof, everything because hey, that's what getting famous is about right?

MOOS: The lady has horse sense.

There are four modes of prancercise, most of them done wearing ankle weights.

ROHRBACK: We're going to really cut the noose and let it loose with the prancercise gallop.

MOOS: Joanna says prancercise is great aerobic exercise, low impact on the body and lots of fun. Reminded us of an episode of "Friends" in which Rachael discovers that running unself-consciously like a goof ball can feel great.

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS: I feel so free and so graceful.

MOOS: See, even Jennifer Aniston prancercises.

ROHRBACK: Now it's your turn.

MOOS: I'm channeling my inner horse. It's exhausting. As for all that mockery, Joanna takes it in stride.

ROHRBACK: Well maybe my presence because I'm not a youngster and I'm not wearing, you know, the usual pierced earrings and the punk hairdo.

MOOS: She's a horse of a different color all right.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: She's in good shape Berman. She looks like she's in good shape.

BERMAN: It's good and good for you. Prancercise.

ROMANS: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: With that -- I'm John Berman.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, letters loaded with ricin sent to the New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: The letter was obviously referred to our anti-gun efforts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The poisonous message? "You will have to kill me before you take my guns."

Also --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this hail. We're going to have broken windows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)