Return to Transcripts main page


Bracing for TS Andrea; NSA Seizing Verizon Phone Records; Paris Jackson Hospitalized

Aired June 6, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating one-two punch. A tornado touches down in Florida as Tropical Storm Andrea is just hours away, pummeling the state with wind, rain and floods.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Big brother watching. New reports this morning that the U.S. government could be keeping an eye on your phone calls.

BERMAN: Like all of them.

And cry for help, Michael Jackson's daughter in the hospital this morning, after reported suicide attempt.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, June 6. It's 5:00 in the East.

BERMAN: And we start this morning with the first named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season. It is taking direct aim at Florida. Right now, tropical storm Andrea is starting to bear down on that state's west coast. It spawned at least one tornado so far.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from just north of Ft. Meyers to south of Tallahassee.

George Howell joins us live by phone from Clearwater.

How do things like right now, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, John, good morning.

You know, one thing. This is definitely a rainmaker, a lot of heavy rain coming down. So much to the point where we've had a trouble getting a live signal out.

A lot of rain coming down from this storm right now. And as you mentioned, the most immediate concern right now is the tornadic activity, is this tornadic activity, rotation that started in the Adamsville area. You moved up the I-75 corridor and then headed towards Tampa itself.

Again, meteorologists are tracking this rotation. They say that they believe a tornado touched ground from time to time, the local meteorologist, if you live in this area, important to have that NOAA weather radio handy. Also to monitor the local affiliate coverage and this coverage as we continue to cover the storm, John.

Here's the thing: it's a weak tropical storm, certainly, but a lot of rain coming down from the storm. They think it could drop anywhere from three to six inches of rainfall, could cause coastal flooding and a storm surge at least one to three feet higher than the high tide.

So that's the big concern is the storm parks itself over the Florida area. And if you look at the radar, you're looking at the eastern side of the storm, over the state of Florida. That means the northeastern quadrant, the southeastern quadrant, really the worst part of storm over the state of Florida as this storm continues to churn to the north, just a lot of rain, a lot of problems here.

BERMAN: You're talking about the storm surge. Obviously, that affects the beaches, George. This is a heavy time of year for tourism.

Are people being told to stay away from the beaches right now?

HOWELL: John, absolutely. And, certainly, a dent in tourism, because there's a concern about rip currents out here. With the choppy waters, no one would want to be out there. Just a bad time if you booked a Florida vacation is to be out on the beach.

With this storm system, there's a big concern of coastal flooding and, you know, rip tides out there, you just don't want to be in the water right now.

BERMAN: All right. George Howell for us in Clearwater, Florida, stay dry, George, if you can.

ROMANS: Heavy rains in Texas are causing several buildings to cave in. Part of the roof collapse with the Lubbock Motor Inn motel. We're also hearing that part of the roof at the Lubbock Heart Hospital gave way, and that rain may have seeped into patient rooms. No one was injured.

Let's get to the latest on all these storms. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking the storm's every move for us this morning.

Good morning.


Yes, of course, we're watching the tropical storm out there. Now, remember this was actually tropical storm Barbara in the Pacific. Once we move into the Atlantic, we deal with a different hurricane season. It's actually now tropical storm Andrea.

And you can see the development here. Seeing the steady winds right now, about 60 miles per hour. It's not expected to strengthen much. That is the good news.

We are going to see it go right into the panhandle here and continue right along the Eastern Seaboard, southern portions of Georgia and the Carolinas will be seeing heavy rainfall and eventually it will make its way up towards New York. So, yes, a lot of rain expected over the next several days.

We are watching storm reports of tornadoes. Yes, once you get in the right quadrant, and keep in mind the ocean is smooth once those winds make their way over ground, the friction spins up little tornadoes and, of course, they come with almost no warning for that reason. So, that's what we continue to monitor especially in the morning hours, expected to make landfall in late day.

Otherwise, we are looking for four to six inches of rain, heavier amounts, we see up to eight inches of rain with it. And again, as it tracks its way up to the Eastern Seaboard, we're going to be talking about heavy through New York, two to four inches of rain. So, a lot of that tropical moisture really enhances the rainfall out there, and that's what's going to be looking out.

And, of course, out towards Texas, still seeing some heavier showers, the cold air filtering in. So, a much better picture for that.

BERMAN: Two to four inches of rain, happy weekend, Northeast.

Thanks, Indra. Really appreciate it.

And developing right now, what is the government doing with your phone records? I mean a lot of them.

The U.S. government reportedly attaining top secret court orders requiring Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency. "The Guardian" reports that the order was issued at the request of the FBI. And the information being turned over to the NSA includes originating and terminating telephone numbers as well as location, time and duration of all the calls.

According to the report, the order does not require the content of the conversations be turned over.

The ACLU calls the secret court order alarming and beyond Orwellian. Last night, former presidential candidate, former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, told CNN's Piers Morgan, there's only one thing that can justify this kind of government intrusion.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I'd want to know this was walled off and I would want some kind of criminal sanctions against anybody who used this information for anything except counterterrorism. The problem is, given everything we've learned recently about the current bureaucracy, why would you trust them?


BERMAN: CNN is working to independently confirm the authenticity of the court order on "The Guardian's" Web site. Verizon is refusing to discuss the story and, so far, the NSA, the FBI, and White House are all not commenting.

ROMANS: All right. Overnight, a dramatic rescuer as a survivor was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in Philadelphia. Six people were killed, 14 injured when this building which was in the process of being demolished collapsed on to a thrift store. A search and rescue operation continues this morning at the site.

We get more now from Chris Welch.



CHRIS WELCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A late-night breakthrough as crews on scene uncover a 61-year-old woman more than 12 hours after the collapse.

MICHAEL RESNICK, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA: They were digging and they felt her and she was able to respond.

WELCH: But others caught in the rubble weren't as lucky.

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives and their families. And at the same time, we pray that those who survive will recover, not only physically, but certainly mentally from the trauma of being in a building and it suddenly collapses.

WELCH: Harold Corbin, a maintenance worker, was there to help.

HAROLD CORBIN, MAINTENANCE WORKER: We were on top of the roof pulling them out. They were on an angle. There was just a narrow space to climb in to help, because when we got there, all you could hear was help and maybe see a hand or something through the rubble.

That's when the guys kicked in. They ran straight up, jumped in and started moving stuff.

WELCH (on camera): At this point, investigators cannot confirm that there is no one left inside, thus they're stressing the fact that this is still very much an active search and expect to continue through the night.

Reporting in Philadelphia, I'm Chris Welch.


ROMANS: All right. Arrests this morning in the gang rape of an American woman in India. Protesters have taken to the streets in recent days upset by a series of high-profile rapes.

In this case, authorities say three men in their early 20s were picked up for this crime. They apparently offered the woman a ride after she couldn't find a taxi early Tuesday morning. She says they took her to the wooded area and raped her. BERMAN: U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales has admitted to the massacre of 16 innocent Afghan civilians, most of them women and children. Count by count, he pleaded guilty yesterday to more than 30 criminal charges.

He acknowledged he slipped away from his base in March 2012 going house to house on a killing spree, setting 10 of the bodies on fire. Bales said, "There's not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did."

But his attorney blames brain injuries, PTSD and steroids he says were provided by Army Special Forces.

The 39-year-old will escape the death penalty with the guilty pleas. The decision on life with or without parole is expected in August. Life with parole would mean that he could serve as few as 10 years.

ROMANS: Collected and wasted, that's what they're calling today's House hearing on the IRS spending scandal. J. Russell George will be testifying. He's the Treasury Department inspector general whose scathing report detailed $50 million in IRS spending on employee conferences from 2010 to 2012. Two years, $50 million.

And new this morning, the IRS placing two employees on administrative leave for allegedly taking $1,100 in free food and other items during a 2010 conference in Anaheim. That conference cost taxpayers more than $4 million.

BERMAN: More of your hard-earned tax dollars at work here. This is another good one. Employees at an EPA warehouse in Landover, Maryland, turning their facility into a playground. An inspector general's report found a personal rec room complete with television, stereos and couches, along with refrigerators and microwaves are there. Workers even built their own athletic center using EPA surplus gym equipment. It was all hidden from surveillance cameras using partitions and stacked boxes.

The EPA has now severed ties with Apex Logistics, which is the contractor that ran that facility.

ROMANS: A judge's ruling may help a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl to get a lung transplant she desperately needs to save her life. It prevents the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing a rule that keeps Sarah Murnaghan, who has cystic fibrosis, off the adult's transplant list. Children under 12 are not allowed on that list.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more.



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Sara Murnaghan's reaction after getting word a federal judge has temporarily helped her win a victory, the battle to save her life. In the late stages of cystic fibrosis, she desperately needs a lung transplant, having been on the children's donor list 18 months.

Wednesday, her parents filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services to get her included on the adult list. Current policy prevents children under 12 from being on the list.

But late Wednesday, Judge Michael Baylson issued a ten-day restraining order directing the department to immediately cease application of the under 12 rule as to Sarah Murnaghan so she can be considered for receipt of donated lungs from adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the judge is allowing to happen today is allowing her to be on equal ground with the other folks, I mean, adults.

CARROLL: As Sarah became sicker over the past few weeks, the Murnaghans appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to change the policy. Sebelius said it was not within her power to immediately change it.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: The worst of all worlds in my mind is to have some individual pick and choose who lives and who dies. I think you want a process where it's guided by medical science and medical experts.

CARROLL: Secretary Sebelius also saying there are 40 adults currently in Murnaghan's region in need of a transplant. But the Murnaghans say Sarah is so sick, it's likely she'll still be at the top of the adult list.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says federal guidelines have to ensure fairness to both children and adults.

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PHILADELPHIA: It's difficult but you've got to be able to work within the rules but also to make the case when you believe that children could be adversely impacted by a policy.


CARROLL: Time for Sarah still running out, but the Murnaghans now believe she has a fighting chance.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Adorable little girl but so many complicated questions and issues.

ROMANS: It certainly highlights there are too many people who need organs and too few people who donate organs -- and that is the underlying math behind all this.

BERMAN: That is. That's as important here.

Twelve minutes after the hour.

Coming up, deadly cargo. What is inside Russian warships heading to Syria? And why the U.S. is so concerned.

ROMANS: Also, the latest on Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, after an apparent suicide attempt. Were there warning signs leading up to this?


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back.

Sources close to the Jackson family tell CNN that Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson's 15-year-old daughter, was rushed to the hospital early Wednesday morning after cutting one of her wrists.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more from Los Angeles.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A cry for help is how some family sources are describing a possible suicide attempt by Paris Jackson. Paramedics rushing to the Jackson family home, a suicide hot line counselor called 911 after getting a call from Paris.

Frightening moments captured in this dispatch transmission played by "Entertainment Tonight."

911: Calabasas, female 15, OD'd on 20 Motrin and cut her arm with a kitchen knife.

MARQUEZ: 911 responded to the Jackson's home at 1:27 a.m. Wednesday morning for the possible overdose and cut to one wrist.

PARIS JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S DAUGHTER: Hello. This is my face. It's kind of a shocker but, yes, this is what I look like.

MARQUEZ: A week ago, Jackson released this how-to make-up video on YouTube. In it, she's funnily, even silly.

JACKSON: What is she doing there? What? Oh, what?

MARQUEZ: The 15-year-old with great natural beauty at times acts like any other teenager, unsure of herself.

JACKSON: Yes, I'm pink in the face. Yes, I have acne. I'm so incredibly weird. I need serious help. I'm crazy. I'm crazy.

MARQUEZ: Hours before the 911 call, Jackson tweeted, I wonder why tears are salty and quoted the Beatles, "Yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay."

ALAN DUKE, CNN, COVERING JACKSON FAMILY: Paris is a sensitive and dramatic child, teenager, 15 years old, the emotions that come with that. MARQUEZ: Jackson, along with her grandmother Katherine, and her siblings are suing concert promoter AEG for the wrongful death of her father. Twice, she's been questioned.

KEVIN BOYLE, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Paris Jackson was asked intimate details about her father and her father's death. It was very intense situation.

MARQUEZ: A tough situation for any kid, tougher yet for one who has spent so much of her life in the spotlight.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: Overseas now. The fiercest protest that Turkey has seen in decades rages on this morning. And now, police are cracking down on social media as well. Twenty-five people have been detained so far for using sites like Twitter to allegedly send false information about the protests. And police reaction to them. That is according to authorities.

Demonstrations now entering their tenth day. Protesters give the government a list of demands yesterday. It all began as a small sit- in to protect the last green space in central Istanbul. It's mushroomed to much bigger than that, widespread anger over government policies.

Two people have been killed so far. More than 2,300 others injured.

ROMANS: Russia may be defying the United States request not to send a shipment of weapons to the Syrian government. Three amphibious warships in the eastern Mediterranean are believed to be carrying air defense missile systems. But officials say they did not see any evidence of helicopters that Syria has been seeking to beef up its military.

Meantime, Arizona Senator John McCain gives a major address later today where he's expected to talk about his latest trip to the region where he met with Syrian rebels.

BERMAN: Lawyers on both sides in the murder trial of George Zimmerman will be back in court today for a hearing on the admissibility of new voice analysis technology. The judge will also hear defense motion asking for sanctions against the prosecution for alleged violations during the discovery process.

Zimmerman is accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

ROMANS: Eric Holder is in the hot seat today. The embattled attorney general is appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss the Justice Department's budget for next year. Holder is asking for a 3 percent increase over 2012 but he's also expected to face tough questions about his agency's search of reporter e-mails and phone records in an attempt to plug leaks in that department. BERMAN: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan marking the ninth anniversary of her husband's death. The photo shows her placing flowers at President Reagan's grave site in California. The Pope John Paul roses were specifically chosen to honor the special relationship between the president and the pope during the 1980s.

ROMANS: Nine years. I didn't realize it's been nine years.

BERMAN: It's been a while.

ROMANS: Coming up, Apple is no longer the top smartphone in the market. What its main competitor is doing to take that crown, next.


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START.

Minding your business this morning.

Stock futures are not rising but not enough to keep up with yesterday's sell-off. The Dow fell more than 200 points, putting it below 15,000 for the first time in a month. All Dow 30 stocks fell yesterday. The NASDAQ posted its biggest decline in almost two months. All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 dropped.

A new report says the Federal Reserve is describing this economy as modest, moderate and mild.

BERMAN: Oh, my.

ROMANS: This past month, Wall Street is showing it's clearly worried about the Fed and what it will do next. Will it keep throwing billions of dollars into the economy to keep it moving? The mere uncertainty about this causing mortgage rates to jump.

Thirty-year fixed is now above 4 percent for the first time in a year. The data shows that's scaring away some buyers.

There's a new number one in the smartphone market. An industry study says Samsung has outsold Apple and every other brand in May. Samsung get a big boost from its new Galaxy S4 phones. A word of caution, month by month, data can be volatile and other reports put Apple on top. Still marks a big shift and it's a clear sign that Samsung is a formidable threat to Apple.

BERMAN: No matter which phone you use, the government probably has the records of the calls you make.

ROMANS: You know, what about mortgage rates? I mean, do you think about the mortgage rates?

BERMAN: Believe me, higher and higher and higher.

ROMANS: Thirty-year fixed rate mortgage above 4 percent for the first time in an awful long time. So, that's something for anybody looking to refinance. Consider, please. BERMAN: Before it's too late.

ROMANS: Before it's too late.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, heavy rain, blowing winds. The first tropical storm of the season takes aim at Florida. We will have the latest.

But, first, more fallout from baseball's investigation into doping. Will a well-connected source name names?


ROMANS: Major league fallout. As many as 20 Major League Baseball players reportedly tied to a steroid scandal. But will the man, this man at the center of the investigation start naming names?

BERMAN: Happening now: tropical storm Andrea barreling toward the coast of Florida. We'll tell you what it's expected to make landfall.

ROMANS: And mystery revealed. We now know who won the country's largest ever Powerball jackpot.

BERMAN: I'd like to call her nana, my best friend grandma.

ROMANS: You can e-mail us here and we would love to help you.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Twenty-nine minutes after the hour right now.

And the big question baseball is facing this morning: will Tony Bosch name names? He's the man at the center of baseball's new drug cheating scandal. And he's expected to start talking to investigators tomorrow.

Major League Baseball is said to be considering suspensions for some 20 players. That's a lot, including huge stars, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, both former MVPs.

They want to know, investigators do, if the players used performance- enhancing drugs from Bosch's anti-aging clinic Florida and then, of course, lied about it.

CNN's Joe Carter live in Atlanta with the latest.

Good morning, Joe.


Yes, a few months ago, around March, shortly after Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit against Tony Bosch, Bosch decided to go to Alex Rodriguez and ask him for money.