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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Maldonado Goes Free; New Footage of Tsarnaev Brothers; Bieber Heading for Disaster?; The Skimm Ahead; Knaidel for the Win

Aired May 31, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rafael Romo, who has been covering the inside story here, is live from Nogales, Arizona this morning. What is the latest? .

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it has been a very emotional and at the same time joyful morning for Yanira Maldonado. And, it's also been a couple of very difficult weeks for her. Try to imagine this. She attended the funeral of her aunt in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. On her way back, she gets arrested and accused of drug smuggling, specifically marijuana. She celebrates her first wedding anniversary behind bars last Saturday.

Yesterday, only 24 hours ago, she didn't know if she would have to spend years in prison for a crime she always she said that she didn't commit. Last night shortly before midnight, she gets news from the judge that the evidence that the prosecutor's office presented is not enough to charge her with drug trafficking and finally she is let go. This morning, she is back on American soil and we understand that at this time, she is going to -- she is getting close to being reunited with her seven children in the town of Goodyear, near Phoenix, Arizona, John.

BERMAN: Look forward to that moment. Great news she's back on American soil after what she's been through. Rafael Romo for us in Nogales, thank you so much.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: First on CNN, a new development in the Boston marathon bombings, CNN has obtained video of the Boston bombing suspects grabbing a workout at a local gym just 72 hours before explosions went off. Security cameras at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in Boston shows the Tsarnaev brothers arriving with a friend before 2:45 p.m. Friday, April 12th. Before they get started, Tamerlan Tsarnaev gets in an argument with the manager about taking off his shoes, a policy at the gym. And then the brothers begin their workout. The manager says Tamerlan Tsarnaev here seen skipping rope, nonchalant, casual. Remember, the bomb has already been finished, they have already picked their date. He's looking a little different here. He has had just shaved off his beard.

BERMAN: A Chicago man gets 23 years in prison for attempting to set off what he thought was a bomb outside Wrigley Field. Twenty-five- year-old Sammy Samir Hassoun was arrested in 2010 in an FBI sting after placing a backpack in a trash container near an area crowded with restaurants and bar patrons. He pleaded guilty charges to trying to set off explosives. ROMANS: New developments in the case of the hatchet wielding hitchhiker. The 24-year-old Kai, who's real name is Caleb McGillvary has been extradited from Philadelphia to New Jersey to face murder charges. McGillvary is accused of killing a lawyer in the victim's home. The two had met in Times Square and the suspect became an internet sensation, a celebrity for a colorful interview he gave earlier this year, after hitting an assault suspect with a hatchet.

BERMAN: Former owner of a monkey who was famously photographed in an Ikea store wearing a fashionable jacket is in court, in Canada fighting to get the monkey back. Yasmin Nakhuda says she might have a good case. The animal sanctuary where the monkey has been living is no longer pursuing charges that he was mistreated while in her care.

ROMANS: Unclear about how quickly he could put together the Billy bookshelves at the Ikea in Toronot.

BERMAN: It is very hard to do.

ROMANS: Is it?

It may not be Amanda Bynes territory, but pop-star Justin Bieber making headlines again for offstage antics. This includes partying hard, attracting an awful lot of attention of law enforcement. CNN's Sara Sidner has more from Hollywood.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Justin bieber, pop-star turned party king or just rebellious teen? The 19-year-old's clean cut image seeing another stain after he was spotted club hopping around New York City Wednesday night. Raising more questions about his recent off stage antics.

Do you think that Justin Bieber is on this path of a slow destruction, or just a meltdown?

VANESSA GRIGORIADAS, CONTRIBUTOR, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: I think some of the things he has done recently have crossed over from acting out into --

(CROSSTALK)

SIDNER: Meltdown status?

GRIGORIADAS: Maybe meltdown status.

SIDNER: Vanessa Grigoriadas spent time with Bieber and his inner circle writing his cover story for "Rolling Stone" magazine. Bouncing between New York City clubs by night and by day reportedly racing through his California neighborhood, the LA Sheriff's department is all but begging Bieber to speak with deputies, sent to investigate reports of reckless driving.

STEVE WHITMORE, SPKE L.A. COUNTY SHERRIF'S DEPT.: Talk to us, tell us what you believe occurred. SIDNER: This week, Bieber's neighbors accused singer of barreling through the gated Calabasas neighborhood at breakneck speed.

WHITMORE: We got a couple of calls from two witnesses said they saw Justin Bieber driving recklessly in his white Ferrari. Some estimated maybe freeway rates of speed, and this is in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.

SIDNER: Bieber's neighbors tell CNN this isn't the first time they saw the singer driving recklessly. A neighbor who confronted Bieber about it back in March accuses him of spitting on him and making threats in response. The L.A. district attorney says that case is under review. Last summer, Bieber got a speeding ticket why trying to outrun the paparazzi. He called 911 when photographers continued to follow him.

JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER: They are the ones driving reckless and I'm the one that you know -- trying to not have them be on my tail.

SIDNER: If that weren't enough car trouble for the Biebs, Wednesday an L.A. county sheriff's deputy pulled over his Ferrari for not having a front license plate. Bieber wasn't driving, his friend Li'l Twist reportedly was. The second time Twist pulled over in Bieber's car. As for the legions of young, impressionable fans, they don't seem to care what he is up to offstage as long as he keeps performing on stage.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Representatives for Justin Bieber have not responded to requests for comment from CNN. If Justin Bieber would like to call in --

BERMAN: Our phone is waiting. Meanwhile, E! chief news correspondent Ken Baker is joining us now from L.A. to help break down what is going on with Justin Bieber. We have seen this parade of news stories here. One thing after another after another with Justin Bieber. The driving, the partying, just weird, weird stuff. At what point do you get worried about something like this?

KEN BAKER, E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think there are a lot of people worried. And it breaks down into two camps to be honest with you. One camp ringing the alarm bell. These alarmists say if he continues on the road, he will be the next Amanda Bynes, the next Lindsay Lohan, he'll be going to rehab, out of control.

On the other side, people saying, look, he's 19 years old, he out having fun. You get a Ferrari not to drive 25 miles an hour, he's driving fast and that's what a teenager would do. But at the same time, there is a pattern and that is what people are very concerned about, a pattern of misbehavior and, frankly, hostility, particularly with law enforcement and a lot of people close to him. That has people very, very troubled.

BERMAN: One of the issues, he may not be a threat just to himself, but others driving around the community in the Ferrari, Calabasas, and you have neighbors, some of whom are famous in their own right, getting upset here. A tweet from Eric Dickerson, a famous NFL former running back. He tweets, "I live in Calabas too, and Justin Bieber needs to slow his ass down." We can say that on TV, because he really did tweet that. There are people here at risk.

BAKER: Yes, no certainly that is the case. You have to keep in mind with Justin Bieber is that it was only back in 2008, he was discovered on Youtube this kid from Stratford, Ontario. An unknown. I didn't even interview him until 2009 in Hollywood. And this meteoric rise, he's made $55 million last year alone. Expected to make more than that this year. He's been on this wild, fast ride, and I think that in a lot of ways, unfortunately, the pattern would you expect and we have seen in the past with a lot of teen pop-stars who have trouble dealing with fame and that certainly is happening. And I think that you have to look at what's next for him. He has the American leg of this tour he's been on and he's got a lot of work in front of him over the next few months. I would recommend after this, maybe take a break, step back, take a deep breath, because it does seem that the pressure is getting him.

ROMANS: No question, the people around him, the storyline has changed. It was self-made Justin Bieber, and now selfish Justin Bieber and that is something his camp and the grownups around him are trying to help this young man grow up with fame and a lot of money, that's what they have to put the brakes on -- the pedal to the metal.

BERMAN: Too much. All right, Ken Baker, thank you for joining us.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, never be the last person in the know. We'll introduce you to the he founders of a website newsletter that let's you skim ahead.

BERMAN: This 13-year-old ends his spelling bee career as King Bee. We'll meet National Champion Arvind Mahankali, live. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So it's not unusual for me at least, to be at a dinner table feeling stumped by the conversation happening around you.

ROMANS: Theskimm.com hopet to keep that from happening to you again. It is a daily newsletter that covers all the biggest news and buzziest stories in brief. We're joined now by the cofounders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, who have all the things you need to get through the weekend. This is your cocktail party 101. Sounds smart. Good morning, ladies. How are you?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: What are the biggest stories? Big supreme court ruling. What you need to know about?

CARLY ZAKIN, THESKIMM.COM: Supreme Court is about to get you ahead for June. I mean, the Supremes are in for June and we really just read about the court. They have a lot of major decisions to make and these aren't decisions you won't hear about again. These are decisions that really will impact you, your children, think about this textbook story that you read about the legendary Supreme Court cases growing up. These are cases that our children will read about one day.

DANIELLE WEISBERG, THE SKIMM.COM: So, we're really talking about deciding about who you get to marry. The primary voting rights act, legislation in our country is up for debate. The -- your genes, the way they are patented, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

WEISBERG: Yours, and yours. That's up for debate as well and also whether public universities can continue to make admissions decisions based on race in part.

BERMAN: That's right, se'll be glued to the Supremes this coming month. (INAUDIBLE) You guys also cover sports news.

WEISBERG: We do. So no matter you are going to be this weekend, sports will be talked about. Especially basketball, especially because of last night. King James really ruled the court this time. Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers last night. Now the series is 3-2, everyone watching Saturday to --

ZAKIN: Even if they don't like basketball.

WEISBERG: Yeah. It's really not up for debate.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAKIN: If you don't like basketball, read The Skimm.

(CROSSTALK)

WEISBERG: Exactly. To see if they can lock it up. Go hang with the San Antonio Spurs for the finals.

ZAKIN: Yeah, but off the court, there are some other basketball news involving Dennis Rodman. We call him our understudy secretary of state as he would probably like to be called. As we all know and can remember, he took quite the trip to North Korea to visit his best friend, Kim Jong-un. Turns out, he actually was not the first choice to go, which might be --

ROMANS: Really?

ZAKIN: Might be a tough thing for him to swallow. Michael Jordan, his former rival in the Bulls.

WEISBERG: I'm a Bulls fan, so this is really -- I totally get why you would pick Michael Jordan first.

ZAKIN: Michael Jordan, was actually the first choice. Don't know why he would turn down a free trip to North Korea. Can't imagine why.

WEISBERG: Maybe the golf courses? ZAKIN: Maybe? M.J. Likes to golf.

BERMAN: I'm busy today. I can't go to Pyongyang, sorry.

ZAKIN: But, Dennis stepped in you know I think obviously very proud of that choice, but he want to roll back the PR strategy there because he was not number one.

ROMANS: Interesting. Very interesting.

All right let's talk about James Lipton the pimp.

WEISBERG: Are you ok?

BERMAN: No, not at all.

WEISBERG: It's our favorite story this week. I really wanted to bring out whenever you want to feel silence this is definitely a talker. James Lipton was a pimp in Paris in the '50s.

ZAKIN: Let's repeat that one more time.

WEISBERG: James Lipton was a pimp and not just any pimp who is actually a really entrepreneurial pimp. He ran a whole bordello.

BERMAN: He's industrious, I suppose.

ZAKIN: He's industrious, he was a hustler. You know Paris was different then. You know he said it was tough times after the war, and we get it, but an opportunity presented itself and, you know, there was a glitch in his resume. We didn't really know what he did in the early '50s. We now know.

BERMAN: Thank goodness.

WEISBERG: He's quite busy. But he also really -- he's 86 and he looks great.

ZAKIN: You know other fun fact spring out at the dinner party. James Lipton 86.

BERMAN: After you drop the 86 bomb, dropped the James Lipton the pimp bomb right there.

ZAKIN: Right. It makes everything better.

ROMANS: Well ladies it's so nice to meet you. Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg nice to see you. Have a great weekend.

WEISBERG: Thanks for having us.

ZAKIN: Thank you. You too.

ROMANS: Are you up to speed now, Berman?

BERMAN: I feel like these are words that should never be said together, like James Lipton and sex. Let's leave it at that. Ahead on STARTING POINT --

ROMANS: We didn't say that. We said James Lipton and pimp.

BERMAN: But the words in there, it's part of it.

We have something much more PG coming up. Can you spell Knaidel?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARVIND MAHANKALI, NATIONAL SPELLING BEE CHAMPION: K-n-a-i-d-e-l. Knaidel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Knaidel -- for all the marbles, that was the word to beat. And Arvind Mahankali nailed it. He is the new national spelling bee champ he joins us live.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knaidel.

MAHANKALI: Knaidel. May I have the word's origin please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: German derived Yiddish in origin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No way.

MAHANKALI: Knaidel, k-n-a-i-d-e-l.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: For the win and the crowd was caviling. You're showing up my Yiddish there. 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali with "knaidel" wins it all. Knaidel by the way is Yiddish for dumpling. He was one of the last 281 spellers left standing, winning the 86th annual national Scripps spelling bee and the $30,000 prize money that comes with it.

ROMANS: The King Bee himself Arvind Mahankali joins us now from Maryland. Congratulations how do you feel this morning?

MAHANKALI: Well, this morning I still haven't really fully understood what has happened, or happened last night.

ROMANS: You spelled a word correctly that's really hard and you beat hundreds of others to be -- to win the spelling bee. Congratulations.

MAHANKALI: Thank you.

BERMAN: Yes. You're saying you don't understand. I don't understand nearly 95 percent of the words they asked you about there. So we have something in common. But -- what I love so much about your story is the redemption here. You finished third the last two years. This was your last chance. And you nailed it. How much pressure did you feel going into the finals last night?

MAHANKALI: Well, actually I -- I didn't feel any pressure. Because I didn't think about any of that when I was going to the finals.

ROMANS: So what were you thinking of? Tell me a little about your training for the big day.

MAHANKALI: Well actually before the finals, I just -- I had a good time and I relaxed and I enjoyed with the other finalists and during the finals, I was just calm. And then when I got my word, I just focused on spelling that word correctly and making it to the next round.

BERMAN: When they said knaidel to you, what was the first thing that went through your mind?

MAHANKALI: Well when Dr. Billy said "knaidel" then I thought I have this word nailed. And I basically thought I got this.

ROMANS: That's awesome.

MAHANKALI: I studied that word sometime this year, so I remembered it.

ROMANS: Tell me about studying the words. You know, do you sit down at night. Do you dedicate like a pianist, three or four hours a night to learning new material, you go through dictionaries? How do you learn these words?

MAHANKALI: Well I try to study as much as I can. So mostly I browse to the dictionary and I look at words and my dad also collects words from the dictionary and my mother quizzes me on them and I also lookup those words to get familiarity with those words.

BERMAN: So this was it for you. There's no more national spelling bee for you to compete in, so what are you going to replace all that with?

MAHANKALI: Well next year I'll try to go somewhere in the math Olympiads and physics Olympiads.

BERMAN: Really setting the bar there low. All right, Arvind Mahankali, we are in awe of you. We do not know how you do it. Congratulations. We are so thrilled for you.

ROMANS: Yes very good work, very good work, all of it paying off. And we can't wait to see what you do next. Thanks for coming by.

Wildlife Center say the vast majority of injuries to animals are caused by us. This week's CNN hero doing her part to fix that damage, playing Mother Nature to thousands of animals born to be wild. Meet Mona Rutger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this fast-paced world, we do forget that we are animals, and part of the natural world. This is a beautiful female bald eagle. Humans, we are wild life's worst enemy in many, many ways.

She had been clipped by a small jet. We don't want her to live in a cage. We want to get her back out in the wild. I'm Mona Rutger. I rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured wild life back into their natural habitat. I think we can get her fixed up and get her back out there.

When I started the center, I thought I would get 25, 30 animals per year. Once people found out, the phone never stopped ringing.

This Cooper's Hawk is ready to go. It's all consuming, but I'm doing something I love.

One, two, three, be free.

With an injured animal, everyone says let nature take its course, but 90 percent of these animals' injuries are human-related. That's not nature. It's us. We need to become more responsible caretakers of the earth. Each animal has a role to play in the food chain. If just one link breaks, the whole chain falls apart.

This is a big day for these little baby ducks.

We successfully released thousands of animals back to the wild. It's the same thrill every single time. Whoa.

We're counting on the children to do a better job than we have in the past. Where do wild animals really belong?

CHILDREN: In the wild.

RUTGER: I desperately want them to feel the excitement that I find in nature. We can make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow, that's great. And kids, the kids are the future. I love that she's teaching them.

BERMAN: I don't know what was cuter, the animals or the faces on those kids. Just amazing.

All right. STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: That's all for us this morning. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very grateful that I'm free. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Tearful thanks from the Arizona mom locked in a Mexican jail for more than a week on a trumped-up drug smuggling --