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Bracing for TS Andrea; Paris Jackson Hospitalized; Did Ex-Cop Kill Wife?; Jeep Recall Refusal; Sisters Go To School Instead Of Dump

Aired June 6, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Florida bracing for the storm. Tropical Storm Andrea packing heavy rain, ferocious winds just hours from making landfall.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Cry for help. Michael Jackson's daughter in the hospital this morning recovering from a suicide attempt.

BERMAN: And driving a death trap? Jeep owners fed up after Chrysler refuses a recall of millions of potentially dangerous vehicles.

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

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

Let's begin with the latest on tropical storm Andrea. A tornado warning now in effect for parts of Palm Beach County, Florida, that's just north of Miami. And further north, in the Tampa Bay area, Andrea's outer bands, they are coming ashore this morning. There are reports of tornadoes starting to touch down.

We turn to meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking the storm's every move for us.

Good morning.


It's really hard to believe. Think of all the rain Florida has already experienced. A foot of rain, this is the last thing they need right now. And, of course, it's only the beginning of the hurricane season.

Let's take you out right now. Take a look at these maps right now. We're talking about really some heavy rain making its way, currently seeing about 60 miles per hour winds there, out through Florida. We're going to start tracking this headed toward Big Bend, starting to make kind of a northeasterly turn here. And as it does, of course, it's going to dissipate. It's not expected to strengthen.

Very early in the season, so that is the good news. That with the rainfall there as the flood watches are definitely going to be a big concern here, as we continue to see the system move ashore.

The other thing, we are already noticing this morning, is that Northeast quadrant. That's where you see friction. Once you get friction making its way over land you see small, isolated tornadoes. We have seen several reports already. So, of course, that will be another big concern in addition to the heavy winds and faithful.

As far as the rain everyone is asking, yes, about a good four to six inches, even some higher amounts of eight inches. Definitely, on the forecast there, storm surge and another two to four feet is possible. Then, the sky makes it all the way up to New York. So, we're talking about even two to four inches here.

So, yes, of course, it's dissipating but regardless, with all the moisture out there, you're talking about heavy storms. It's prom weekend, there are a lot of birthday parties. Everyone is asking, unfortunately -- rain, rain, rain, more rain.

BERMAN: And as you said, no one looks good frizzy.

PETERSONS: No one looks good frizzy, I know I don't. Let me tell you that.

BERMAN: A tragedy here, Indra. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Sources close to the Jackson family are calling a possible suicide attempt by Michael Jackson's daughter a cry for help. Fifteen-year- old Paris Jackson was taken to the hospital. A suicide prevention hotline operator allegedly called 911 after speaking to the teen.

Sources tell CNN that Jackson had a cut on her wrists.


ALAN DUKE, CNN, COVERING JACKSON FAMILY: Paris is a very sensitive and dramatic child, a teenager, 15 years old, the emotions that come with that.


BERMAN: A Jackson family attorney said Paris Jackson is physically fine. She is getting appropriate medical attention. She's been under pressure in recent days, they say, having been questioned twice about her father's death as part of the family's lawsuit against concern promoter AEG live.

ROMANS: The outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome known as MERS posted a serious enough health and national security risks to be called a public health emergency. No cases have been found in the U.S. But at least 30 of 54 people around the world with the virus have died. Declaration allows for quicker testing to keep track of the virus.

BERMAN: Now to the latest in the sensational murder trial in Kansas. Attorneys for ex-cop Brett Seacat accused of killing his wife and setting fire to their home are laying out the case. They say side effect of a weight loss hormone led her to commit suicide.

Here's Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former sheriff's deputy Brett Seacat watched intently and even came up with his own questions for his lawyers to ask as the defense team pressed its case Wednesday.

One of the defense witnesses, an alternative medicine specialist testified she advised Seacat's wife Vashti to take the hormone HCG to help her lose weight. The defense is trying to get jurors to believe the hormone may have caused the 34-year-old mother of two to take her own life.

KATHLEEN MASON MORTON, INTEGRATED MEDICINE SPECIALIST: When you use HCG, it's a hormone. And what it does is it manipulates the body to utilizing body fat as stored energy under certain circumstances. There was a lot of skepticism in the medical community about this. And that is now finally turning around.

ROWLANDS: Also on Wednesday, a defense handwriting expert testified this suicide note was, in her opinion, real. The note includes messages for the couple's two sons ages 4 and 2. The prosecution's handwriting expert told the jury last week that it was a fake.

DENNIS MCPHAIL, HANDWRITING EXPERT: After examining, re-examining and taking in the different scenarios, it all came back to the same thing. This was either a tracing or a simulation.

ROWLANDS: Brett Seacat was served with divorce papers three days before Vashti's death. The prosecution says the prospect of losing his wife drove him to shoot her in the head with this .44 caliber magnum handgun and set the family home on fire to destroy evidence.

Because of the fire and the condition of the body, the coroner testifies she could not determine if it was a homicide or a suicide.

(on camera): The defense will continue its case when court resumes. It is expected at some point, Seacat will take the stand in his own defense.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Kingman, Kansas.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Ted for that report.

A new Pentagon report finds the agency gave unprecedented access to this screen writer and director of the film "Zero Dark Thirty." The report lists e-mails in which the screenwriter Mark Boal met several times with key members of the team that flushed out Osama bin Laden and had access to what was then considered top secret material. Critics have charged the Obama administration was eager to milk publicity over the killing of bin Laden ahead of the 2012 presidential election. ROMANS: A military judge giving Fort Hood shooting suspect Major Nidal Hasan until Monday to prepare for his defense. Hasan has been cleared to represent himself at his court-martial. As a result, he could end up questioning victims he's accused of shooting. He's charged with killing 13 people and wounding dozens more in the 2009 rampage at Fort Food. Hasan claims he was protecting Taliban leadership in Afghanistan from the U.S. military.

BERMAN: Former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten denied parole for the 20th time. She was convicted of conspiracy and murder for the 1969 stabbing death of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. The 63- year-old Van Houten told the parole board yesterday she's trying to live a life of healing. But her bid for release was rejected. She'll be eligible for another parole hearing in five years.

ROMANS: Chrysler's refusal to recall millions of Jeeps sparking some real concerns among owners of the popular SUV.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has the story.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's what Kelly Cowan, a North Carolina mother of two, now calls her 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

COWAN: Somebody is coming up too fast behind me I get panicked and think about exit scenarios. So, most of my commuting, if possible, is done on bicycle, because I don't want to risk getting rear ended.

ELAM: A dispute between Chrysler, the maker of Jeeps and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is making headlines. In a rare act of defiance, Chrysler refuses to follow the agency's guidance and recall more than 2.7 million Jeep models the government says have a faulty gas tank design.

The recall would target 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee models in the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty.

Jonathan Theriault drives a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Like everyone else we asked, he had no idea there was even talk of a recall until we told him.

JONATHAN THERIAULT, JEEP GRAND CHEROOKE OWNER: I haven't had a problem yet. But if it's true what they said, that -- I mean, there's damage or it can catch on fire if I get rear ended, yes, it should be recalled. Yes, it does kind of freak me out a little.

ELAMN: Others are taking a different stance like this driver who posted, "Sorry, but I'm not handing over my fiery death trap for such minuscule repairs. Hold strong, Chrysler."

(on camera): So, what do these Jeep owners to do until the dispute is resolved? Well, car sales experts say selling is not an option now. JESSICA CALDWELL, SR. ANALYST, EDMUNDS.COM: People don't want a car that can catch on fire. That's something people aren't looking for out there, no matter what the price is.

ELAM (voice-over): Chrysler believes the cars are safe. And one expert says the stats are on the company's side.

RICK NEWMAN, COLUMNIST, YAHOO! FINANCE: If you drove a jeep for ten years the odds of this happening to you would be something like 1 in 100,000.

ELAMN: But that's little comfort to Cowan who has so concerned that she's even created a Facebook page about the issue and is saving up for a new car.

COWAN: When I have long trips and I know I will be on the highway I rent a car, because I don't want to put my family in jeopardy?

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


ROMANS: And what we should reiterate her is how unusual it is for a company to tell the government, no, we don't want to do your recall. Very, very unusually.

BERMAN: It seems to open them up to liability in the future and lawyer, but --

ROMANS: Well, they are saying they are negotiating. And that's what -- remember, recalls are voluntary. So, they're still negotiating. If the government insists, they say no, and then a judge could make the final ruling.

BERMAN: Interesting to see what happens there.

Thirty-nine minutes after the hour.

Coming up, how is this for unexpected? A runner thinks she's in pain because she's been training too hard. Next day it turns out it wasn't running pain. It was a new baby. She didn't know she was pregnant.


BERMAN: Is that even possible? I'm telling you --

ROMANS: You're making this up.

BERMAN: I'm not making it up. We'll tell you more of the story, just ahead.


ROMANS: Raging rivers have overwhelmed much of Central Europe with Germany and the Czech Republic hard hit. Thousands have been forced to flee Dresden after the Elba River spilled into the streets. At least 16 people have died. At least four others are reported missing. About 2,000 people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes. Some homes are submerged in ten feet of water. The river expected to crest today.

BERMAN: Check out the scar this severe tornado left behind in Moore, Oklahoma. NASA satellite took this picture. You can see a beige slash east to west. You really can see that. That's amazing. The National Weather Service says the EF-5 tornado tore through a 17-mile stretch, was on the ground 39 minutes.

ROMANS: A Minnesota woman in training for a half marathon thought she pulled a muscle, she'd ruptured a disk when her back began to hurt last weekend. It turns out she was about to give birth and didn't know it. Trish Staine says she had no idea she was even pregnant especially since she hadn't gained a pound and her husband had a vasectomy. On Monday afternoon, six-pound, six-ounce Mira was born. The baby girl is name short for Miracle. Trish and her husband will be on "STARTING POINT" live at 7:50.

BERMAN: Now turn to a Chicago couple who never planned for a trip to Cambodia to turn into a mission to educate two young women.

ROMANS: Girls education is the subject of a CNN film "girl rising," which airs June 16th, and this particular story tells how a sightseeing tour ended up changing lives.


BILL SMITH, HELPS CAMBODIAN GIRLS GO TO SCHOOL: We were just horrified. I mean, there were hundreds of people on this giant garbage dump.


ROMANS (voice-over): It was 2002 when Bill and Lauren Smith ended up at this garbage dump outside the Phnom Penh. They were sightseeing when their driver asked if they wanted to see the children.

BILL SMITH: They were just like starving, picking through garbage for a few cents a day.

ROMANS: So, the Smiths decided to help one person.

LAUREN SMITH: I remember seeing this little girl with a red hat. And I don't know if it was the red hat or if it was her eyes. But just looked kind of hopeless.

SREYNA, SCAVENGED AT DUMP AS A CHILD: the guy came up to me and said, hey, you know, these foreigners want to talk to you. They want to help you, take you go to school.

ROMANS: They took 10-year-old Sreyna home to talk to her mother and met 12-year-old Salim.

LAUREN SMITH: We're like, we got to help the sister, too.

ROMANS: The couple agreed to pay the girl's mother what the children earned at the dump, about $10 a month each.

BILL SMITH: The deal was that they could never go back to the dump again. We would put them in school. We would pay for everything.

ROMANS: Over the years, the girls became close to the Smiths.

SALIM, SCAVENGED AT DUMP AS A CHILD: We feel like a second family. I get emotional, because I don't have like a feeling with my family that much.

ROMANS: Now, the two young women are attending college in Chicago.

SREYNA: Education, to me, is like a second life.


BERMAN: The Smiths sponsored two other girls on the trip to Cambodia. Lovely. And a few years, later they started a non-profit called A New Day Cambodia. Currently, the organization is helping about 100 girls and boys get an education. The CNN film, "Girl Rising" premieres on June 16th at 9:00 p.m.

ROMANS (on-camera): Right. Coming up, getting to graduation. A Detroit teen's remarkable recovery from a gunshot wound to the head and then the surprise he gave his classmates. It's really a heartwarming story. It's coming up.


BERMAN: An update now on the story we've been talking about this morning. The White House is now reacting to the report claiming the government has obtained a top secret court order making Verizon turnover the telephone records for millions of Americans. They're not confirming or denying the report, but, a senior administration official tells CNN that courts review special intelligence orders and approve them to ensure they're within constitutional protection.

So, what they're kind of saying there is, we're not saying we did or didn't do it, but if we did do it, a court would have said it's OK.

ROMANS: And Congress has passed over and over again has extended the right for the government to do this, right?


ROMANS: OK. Just checking.

BERMAN: Doesn't mean it's not disturbing to millions and millions of people who now realize their phone records have been turned over to the government.

ROMANS: I am a Verizon customer. I'm wondering what in the world they need to know all that data for. BERMAN: I know who you're calling. Have you called your mom enough?


ROMANS: We talked at some point a little bit later about -- I mean, just what they want to do with all that data? What kind of pattern -- what could be the reason that they'd be needed the data?

BERMAN: And why it's useful?

ROMANS: Right. All right. Tony Bosch, the man at the center of baseball's new drug cheating scandal is expected to start talking with investigators tomorrow.

BERMAN: According to a new report, Bosch tried to get money from Alex Rodriguez before he struck a deal to speak with major league baseball. Joe Carter now has more on the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey. Good morning, guys. Yes. This is all according to a "New York Daily News" report. Tony Bosch, just after major league baseball filed a lawsuit against him, went to Alex Rodriguez and asked him for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A-Rod did not give Tony Bosch any money. But major league baseball became concerned about the relationship between the two and that Bosch might turn to other players asking them for money.

So, that's when they stepped in and decided to strike a deal with Bosch. And he, according to report, is supposed to come to them sometime this week with tons of evidence to suspend 20 players, including that guy, Alex Rodriguez. Now, this is video of him yesterday in Tampa, Florida. He's been there for the past five weeks.

He's rehabbing a left hip that he had surgery on. He did not speak to the media. He did not speak to fans after his workout, but his teammates who played an afternoon game in New York did go to Alex Rodriguez's defense.


BRETT GARDNER, RODRIGUEZ'S TEAMMATE SINCE 2008: He's like a brother to us. You know, he's been here for a long time. And, you know, we'll let that whole situation play out, however, it's going to play out. But, you know, until everything is said and done and the facts come out, you know, we're not going to jump to any conclusions.


CARTER: The White Sox And the Mariners played in a marathon game yesterday, went 16 innings, lasted nearly six hours. Seattle's Kyle Seager, he made baseball history, hitting a grand slam in the 14th inning. It's the first time ever that a player hit a grand slam to tie the game in extra innings. But that wasn't enough to win the game.

Chicago scored twice in the 16th to win 7-5. Guys, this game was scoreless, scoreless for 13 innings, then, the two teams combined to score 12 runs in the last three innings.

The Super Bowl champs were at the White House yesterday. President Obama walked in right next to John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Ravens, and the general manager, Ozzie Newsome. Coach Harbaugh then president Mr. Obama with his own 44 jersey.

The president had a great afternoon joking throughout most of his ten- minute speech, and he made it very clear there was no pregame dancing on the South Lawn.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ray retired on top, coming back from a tricep injury which I believe was caused by that dance he does.


OBAMA: No, I'm not doing that dancing.



CARTER: A very lighthearted event, guys. That's the "Bleacher Report." Back to you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Joe.

Meanwhile, the NBA finals start tonight. Everyone will be watching Lebron James heading up against Tim Duncan and see how he does there.

ROMANS: All right. A star athlete and an honor student from Detroit stunned his high school classmates when he took the stage at graduation just months after being shot in the head. Balaal Hollings said there's a whole lot more he plans to do following his amazing recovery.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is so good to be up here.

ROMANS (voice-over): Hard to believe that just two months ago, this Michigan teenager couldn't walk, talk, or even stand. In April, Balaal Hollings was shot in the head while trying to break up a fight at a party. At Northwestern High School, Hollings was an honor student, football star, student council president, and senior class president.

Balaal was excelling until the bullet that struck him in the head threatened to take everything away. Instead of finishing out his senior year, Balaal spent weeks in the hospital fighting for his life.


ROMANS: Miraculously, he walked on stage at graduation ceremony surprising his classmates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, I want to thank God. It is so good to be alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got shot in the head and I am fully rehabilitated.


ROMANS: Now, fully rehabilitated, Balaal is working on his pitching arm. Last night, he was invited to throw out the first ceremonial pitch at Comerica Park in a stadium full of Detroit Tigers fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to show that, yes, I got shot in the head, but I'm still myself. I hope that people just get inspired by my story and just know you can make it through anything if you just have faith in God.


ROMANS (on-camera): I love that kid, and I love the tassel on the helmet.

BERMAN: I love the graduation. That is fantastic.

ROMANS: Very cool.

BERMAN: Congratulations to him.

That is all for EARLY START.

ROMANS: "Starting Point" begins right after the break.



ROMANS (voice-over): Our "Starting Point," extreme weather, Florida in the thick of it as a tornado touches down, and now, a tropical storm moving right in.

BERMAN: Hold the phone. The government is reportedly collecting details on millions and millions of calls. The question is, why?