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TS Andrea Drenching the East Coast; Prince Philip Hospitalized; Putins are Divorcing; Recovering From Surgery

Aired June 7, 2013 - 06:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Weekend washout. Tropical Storm Andrea barreling up the East Coast. Torrential rains, we will tell you if it's coming for you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Officially on the market. Russia's often bare-chested president announcing he's getting a divorce.

BERMAN: The often bare-chested leader.

ROMANS: I think he's occasionally bare-chested.

BERMAN: And a very special guest this morning. Zoraida Sambolin, looking great and on the mend. We will speak to her live.

I can't wait to talk to Zoraida.

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

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

BERMAN: We're going to start with the major rainmaker named Andrea. The tropical storm is weakening as it makes its way up the Eastern Seaboard but forget those weekend plans because this thing is dumping serious rain. The rain totals the region hasn't seen since hurricane Sandy.

Tropical storm has already walloped Florida, seriously injuring one woman and made its way through Georgia overnight.

ROMANS: For the latest on where the storm is and where Andrea is headed next and we hear the keyword here is fast. Meteorologist Alexandra Steele tracking it for us. It's moving quickly, isn't it?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's the good news. It's moving quickly, 28 miles per hour, just speeding. And also, of course, when the center of circulation comes ashore, it weakens.

Two big threats with this: flooding from heavy rain between two and four inches of rain, and also, there is the threat for tornadoes, especially in coastal North Carolina and Virginia.

Here's the current radar, heaviest rain, see in eastern North Carolina and Virginia, and that's where the tornado threat is, coastal areas. We do have maximum sustained winds with this thing of 45 miles per hour. But for the most part, those are right offshore where the heaviest rain bands are.

We did have a tornado warning. It expired. It was in eastern North Carolina, expired just a couple minutes ago. But all eyes looking at that for the day today.

So, here's the progression: by tonight, you can see, center of circulation south of Washington but the bulk of the access of all the rain overnight tonight, New York to Boston, watch the overnight. Look at Saturday by noon: clear out of the Northeast, not New England. But then by Sunday, it's a fait accompli, the center of circulation well offshore. So, you guys in New York and Washington, Sunday, partly sunny skies, 81 degrees. So, conditions only getting better. Tomorrow -- tonight into tomorrow the worst of it and then it's over.

BERMAN: Get it over with fast.

All right. Alexandra Steele, thank you so much.


BERMAN: The mayor of Philadelphia is promising a wide ranging investigation two days after a building collapsed on Market Street that killed six people. The search for victims is over and the first civil lawsuit in the case has been filed by a woman who was trapped in the rubble but survived. Her attorney claims demolition contractor at the work site violated federal safety regulations.

ROMANS: Fears that Michael Jackson would sabotage his comeback, so says the head of concert promoter AEG live, testifying in the singer's wrongful death trial, now in its sixth week. Randy Phillips said Jackson had been missing rehearsals and feared he wouldn't be ready for the first show in London. He also refused to advance Jackson money days before his death thinking he was breaching his contract.

Jackson's family says Phillips and AEG pressured Jackson to attend rehearsals despite his poor health.

BERMAN: Prince Philip is expected to undergo exploratory abdominal surgery today at a London hospital. Queen Elizabeth's 91-year-old husband was admitted yesterday and could remain there up to two weeks, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

Max Foster now live in London with more on the prince's condition.

Good morning, Max.


Well, there is a degree of concern here. It is an invasive surgery and he's going to have to go under general anesthetic. And as you say, he's 91. He's actually going to be 92 on Monday. So, he's an elderly man and he's going through a major operation.

And the fact that palace talking about a two-week stay is bracing us for a long period out of action. So, a certain degree of concern, but he came in with high spirits. There was some tests carried out earlier in the week and it was in response to those tests that he's in hospital again today.

We talked in the past, John, about Prince Philip's illnesses but this isn't related to anything that's happened before.

BERMAN: What are the queen's plans in terms of visitation or being with him near or around the surgery?

FOSTER: Well, it's a bit of an unusual family in that sense. They don't necessarily go in and visit family members who are ill because it heightens concern. In fact, the queen is currently carrying on with her public engagements. So, literally down the road she's at the new headquarters of the BBC, opening that big, grand, new building and she's been listening to a band play and she's smiling and talking to people, of course, as she goes about that visit, saying they're wishing her husband well.

BERMAN: Yes, different family considerations than the most of us. Max Foster in London this morning with the news on Prince Philip -- I appreciate it.

The tensions between North Korea and South Korea appear to be easing some. Both sides working towards talks aimed at reopening a shuttered industrial complex on the boarder. The north is also promising to reinstate a line of communication between the two countries. It shut that link down and forced South Koreans out of that industrial complex back in April. That is when the Kim Jong Un regime stepped up its rhetoric.

ROMANS: Syria is hard at work on the new border fence. It's along the country's Golan Heights boundary with Syria, where there's been intense fighting between Syrian forces and rebels. The new 45-mile- long fortification has razor wire, touch sensors, ground radar.

An Israeli official tells "The Washington Post" fences like this are a way to keep nearby fighting from crossing over into the Jewish state.

BERMAN: So, big news from Moscow this morning. Vladimir Putin is now available, sort of. Not for parties or cooperate events. Let's be clear: Putin is back on the market, again, sort of.

In one of the more bizarre divorce announcements, the Russian president and his rarely seen wife Lyudmila revealed on state television they were splitting up after nearly 30 years of marriage.

CNN's Phil Black live in Moscow with the details.

Good morning, Phil.

This was a strange one, even for Vladimir Putin.


The timing, the method of this announcement, is certainly quite surprising. But the substance, the news itself -- well, not so much. A lot of people in this country have been wondering a long time about the true nature of this marriage, largely because in recent years, Lyudmila Putin had all but completely disappeared from public view. Now, they have stood side by side, confirming what they describe as a civilized divorce.

Lyudmila said one of the big issues, one of the big problems in their relationship, was the fact that she doesn't like publicity and you can imagine that would be something of a problem if your husband is Vladimir Putin.


BLACK (voice-over): It started as a pretty ordinary Russian version of date night, going to the ballet. But there's never been anything ordinary about Russia's first couple. During a break they walked into an empty room to stand in front of a camera and review the show.

"Excellent," they said.

Then the reporter asked a question, many Russians have been wondering about for a long time. "Is it true you no longer live together?"

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): This is true. All my activities and work are related with the publicity, with the total publicity. Some like it. Some don't.

BLACK: Not the clearest answer. So, Lyudmila Putin had to spell it out.

LYUDMILA PUTIN, VLADIMIR PUTIN'S EX-WIFE (through translator): Our marriage is over because we barely see each other. Vladimir is completely engaged with his work. Our children have grown up. They're living their own lives. So, it just happened we both have our own lives.

BLACK: This breakup appearance was the first time they've been seen together since Putin's inauguration as president over a year ago. Over the 13 years, he has dominated political life in this country, sightings of his wife have become increasingly rare.

In 2008, a Moscow newspaper reported he was planning to divorce her and marry the Russian Olympic gymnast. Putin angrily denied that and the newspaper shut down soon after.

This time, as Lyudmila Putin confirmed the divorce, she explained, she doesn't like flying or publicity. That had to be a big problem if you're married to a plan famous for traveling across the world's largest country attracting lots of attention with highly publicized, tough guy stunts.

Despite those differences, their marriage lasted just short of 30 years. They have two adult daughters. Lyudmila Putin says her soon- to-be ex-husband is a loving father and someone she'll always be close to.


BLACK: You heard Lyudmila Putin there say she doesn't like air travel. When they first met more than 30 years ago through a friend, she was working as a flight attendant on a domestic airline at that time.

President Putin's spokesman has said the divorce itself is not yet final, not yet confirmed and they will not discuss a time frame publicly. He's also said that the timing of the announcement was in no way orchestrated. Insists it was just a spontaneous response to the journalist's question.

If true, then that's a very different behavior from the President Putin we've known so long now, because over the course of his time in power here, he has been very reluctant to discuss any details of his personal life whatsoever, John.

BERMAN: Although he's been perfectly happy to take his shirt off for any camera that's snapping photos.

Phil, as you said the Russian people have been talking about this marriage for a long time. There have been a lot of whispers for a long time. So, what are they saying now?

BLACK: There are and have been, you're right, a lot of rumors, speculation, gossip about what goes on in the president's private life. Largely because Lyudmila had disappeared from view and President Putin himself refused to talk so within the vacuum, it then filled with all of this rumor and gossip mill and so forth that has spread around linking to him other women supposedly and that sort of thing.

I've heard a lot of Russians talking about it in my time here, but it is largely, as far as we know, rumor and gossip. We've never heard anything to substantiate it whatsoever.

BERMAN: Phil Black in Moscow for us again in the news. Steven Seagal in, Mrs. Putin out. Great to see you this morning, Phil. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: That's funny, Berman.

BERMAN: I tried.

We've got something really special. EARLY START anchor Zoraida Sambolin, there she is, on Skype. She figured it out. Boy, am I impressed with that to begin with?

We will speak with Zoraida about her recovery in a few minutes.

ROMANS: Oh, she still looks great. Look at her smile. I can't wait to talk to her.

Also, taking on a champion, how a 2-year-old took down the big man.


BERMAN: We have something super special for you right now -- really the highlight of my week, to joke at all. EARLY START co-anchor Zoraida Sambolin had a double mastectomy last week after discovering she had breast cancer. She was inspired to share her diagnosis and the incredibly brave decision to get the surgery after reading Angelina Jolie's "New York Times" op-ed revealing she had undergone the surgery for preventive reasons.

ROMANS: Zoraida has been keeping us updated throughout this whole process on Facebook and Twitter, and she joins us this morning via Skype from her home in Chicago, and we're thrilled to see her. How are you feeling this morning, Z?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I feel really good. I'm thrilled to be seen this morning.

ROMANS: Aw, you look great. You look really great. And I know that today is the day that your son, Nikko, he's going to graduate, right? He's graduating from middle school. Am I right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, he graduated. He actually got on a plane yesterday, and he's been with me through this whole process. It's just been fantastic to have him here. you know, this is one of the reasons that I have the surgery so that I won't miss a milestones, yet, I have to miss this one, but he's totally OK with it.

He actually told me I don't want you to there, I want you, you know, recuperating and getting stronger and better. But I will be there via Skype also because this is an important moment for him.

BERMAN: So, it's been about a week and a half, Z, since the surgery. And I know a lot of us here, including me, have wanted to basically write or call you every minute of every day to check on how you're doing, but we don't want to bug you. So, tell us about the progress and how things are going.

SAMBOLIN: Things are going well. You know, this is -- I've been discussing this on Facebook a lot with a lot of the women there who have gone through this procedure already and they warned me that the drains are probably going to be the hardest part and it has been.

You have these -- you come out of surgery and you have four drains and tubes attached to you when you go home, and, you know, it's not only uncomfortable, but you've got to also, you know, keep track of how you're draining in order for them to decide when that eventually comes out.

So, that's been a pretty tough process. I'm not as mobile as I'm used to being. That's been a little tough for me as well. I did get my final results back in. That's a picture, I don't know if you're showing it right now, but that's a picture of my ex-husband and my two kids and, you know, one of the things that was really tough for Nikko as he walked into this hospital here in Chicago is that his dad almost died a few months ago and when he walked into the hospital, he just said, you know, enough already.

I can't go through this anymore. So, I'm really grateful that, you know, my prognosis is good now. So, what they found was, what I went in for was this DCIS, ductal carcinoma inside 2 on my left breast, and my right breast had a bunch of things that, you know, looked odd and weren't sure what they were and I didn't want any more biopsies.

So, I got my final pathology report back. And in my left breast, I have breast cancer stage 1, grade 1 invasive. The good news is that my lymph nodes are free and clear, so --

ROMANS: Great.

SAMBOLIN: I'm good. You know, I guess the next stage now is that I have to meet with an oncologist and find out if I do want to go on any drugs like tamoxifen because I have a higher risk for developing more cancers in the future. So, that conversation needs to happen, but, you know, all of the breast tissue is gone and so all of the cancer in my breast is gone.

My right breast actually ended up having lobular carcinoma 2. And so, headed in the same direction as my left breast. So, you know, the good news is that, you know, I made a good decision and, you know, now everything has been taken care of.

ROMANS: I know that you had kind of -- I think it's fair to say, agonized, over what exactly to do and whether to take both breasts and there is conflicting recommendations from the medical community. In the end, your gut feeling was right, wasn't it, Z?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And, you know, not only was my gut feeling right, I read a lot of what these other women have written and, you know, there's some other women who have made the same decision that way kind of a gut decision. I always say whatever decision you make, it's right for you as long as you have all the information, you've met with all the doctors, you understand the process.

You know, whatever decision you make is right for you, because even if this had not come out the way it did on my right breast, I really couldn't sleep at night. All I could think about was, you know, what if and, you know, what does the future hold. And, for me, it made sense to make the decision to take them both based on what I had seen in my past MRIs and my mammograms.

But you know, I just strongly encourage women to, you know, stay on top of it, talk to your doctors, and that way, you can feel really confident that you're making the right decision for you and your family.

BERMAN: We just showed the picture, Z, that you posted on Facebook, which is my favorite, which was -- oh, there's Kenny right there, your fiance, and there's a picture you posted of Kenny helping you with the drain. I get a lump on my throat every time I see that.

We are so happy that you're surrounded by people who are taking care of you. I have to say, you know, I haven't taken off my super Z shirt since you went in. Still wearing it.

ROMANS: He needs to wash it, Zoraida.



BERMAN: We're all behind you. We're glad you're getting the support and love you need. Please, check back in with us soon and congratulations to Nikko today on his graduation.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much. I will continue to check in. Thanks for checking in on me, guys. I really appreciate it. Love you all.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, Zoraida.

BERMAN: Coming up, a baby versus an all-star. Find out what happens when a two-year-old takes on Shaq.


BERMAN: So, it was thanks to a wild circus shot by Tony Parker that the Spurs beat the Heat last night in game one of the NBA finals.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes joins us with more in the Bleacher Report. Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. The veteran San Antonio Spurs continue to just find ways to win games. Last night's nail biter was the team's seventh straight win in the playoff and they have now taken the home court advantage away from the Heat.

Now, Lebron James, he picked up right where he left off in last year's NBA finals as he had 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists for a second straight finals triple-double, but his effort wasn't enough, thanks to Tony Parker. The Spurs' star point guard scored ten points in the fourth and this is the play everyone is talking about.

With the spurs up two, Parker dribbles around, falls down, barely beats the shot clock, what a play. That puts San Antonio up by four with five seconds to go and the Spurs hold on to win game one 92-88.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: It made me go back to that play. I mean, Tony did everything wrong and did everything right in the same possession. I mean, that was the longest 24 seconds that I've been a part of.

TONY PARKER, SAN ANTONIO SPURS: It felt forever, too. I was like, it was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball like three or four times and it didn't work out like I wanted to, but, you know, at the end, I was just trying to get a shot up and felt good when it left my hand and I was happy it went in.


SCHOLES: The game two of the finals is Sunday fight.

In an effort to gain more evidence against players suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball has issued subpoenas to FedEx, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Now, lawyers for MLB are looking for records that could link players to the Florida clinic biogenesis of America and clinic head, Tony Bosch. Now, the Yankees Alex Rodriguez is one of the players who's named appeared in biogenesis' documents.

Yesterday, A-Rod commented on ongoing investigation for the first time saying in a statement, "Myself and others are being mentioned in a media report before the process is even concluded. I will monitor the situation and comment when appropriate."

All right, guys. You may have seen this little boy before. Two-year- old Titus Ashby (ph) became a YouTube sensation earlier this year with his incredible shot making abilities. Last night, Jimmy Kimmel had him taking on Shaq in a shoot-out. Check this out. Titus there, he made eight shots in 30 seconds.

And guys, Shaq still working on that free throw right there. He failed to even make a shot. So, Titus, your winner of the shoot-out.

BERMAN: It's not really a fair contest, though, Andy, because Shaq is so bad from the line.


SCHOLES: They measured it up perfectly in Titus' advantage.

BERMAN: That is fantastic. All right. Andy Scholes, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

That's all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

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



BERMAN (voice-over): Our "Starting Point" this morning, tropical storm Andrea, rain, lots of it, heavy winds and floods. This storm quickly making its way up the east coast. This is a live picture of the churning seas from North Carolina. Which state will get hit the hardest? We're going to track this storm.

ROMANS (voice-over): First, it was your phone calls, now, it's your internet activity. The controversy surrounding the NSA's spying is growing by the minute, from the political fallout from the president to the public outrage, we cover all the angles.

BERMAN: And the IRS forced to defend spending your money on a parody video like this one. So, hear what the head of the agency had to say about "Star Trek" and "Gilligan's Island" when confronted by lawmakers