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Colorado Fires Still Spreading; Spying on Allies?; Politicians Defend PRISM Program; Protests Continue in Turkey; The Mystery of Putin and the Super Bowl Ring; Jay-Z's Big Samsung Deal

Aired June 17, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Too hot to handle. The Colorado fires, the worst the state has ever seen, spreading still this morning. Firefighters in an all night battle.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Spy games run amuck. A new bombshell with fresh accusations this morning. Spying on world leaders. We'll tell you the alleged targets and the tricks they used they listen.

BERMAN: And then pushed to the brink. You know, they've been called one of the greatest teams ever but now the Miami Heat one loss away from a huge upset. Could they really blow it?

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this new special, efficient edition of EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Monday, June 17th. It's 5:00 am in the East.

Up first, let's begin with this -- firefighters making slow but steady progress against Colorado's most destructive ever. It's allowing some evacuees to return home this morning. But for thousands of others, it's still too dangerous. The Black Forest fire is now 65 percent contained. It has burned through 16,000 acres, destroyed nearly 500 homes are, and it's blamed for two deaths.

CNN's Paul Vercammen spoke to a couple whose home was in the line of fire but are still counting their blessings.


BILL MOREAU, LOST HOME IN FIRE: You think of everything you have had in the house for --


BILL MOREAU: Happy anniversary.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Karen and Bill Moreau spent their 34th wedding anniversary in a hotel room, taking inventory for insurance. The high school sweetherats were joined by their adult sons, daughter-in-law and 10-day-old grandchild, Emmett.

Bill watched the Black Forest fire destroy his house on TV. BILL MOREAU: It was obviously our house and the fire was licked up the side of the garage and ran the eve line. And then it was seriously just an inferno.

VERCAMMNEN: Bill fears the fire burned an American flag that belonged to his late father, a Navy corpsman.

BILL MOREAU: All the other stuff means nothing, that means nothing. That's what we bought insurance for. But it's the things that represent our family's heritage.

VERCAMMNE: Karen hopes it did not melt down a weather vane from her Iowa family farm. She calls it "King".

KAREN MOREAU: And he's followed us wherever we went. If there's one thing, I would like that there.

VERCAMMEN: The entire family is celebrating because the house where son, Kevin Moreau, his wife Sylvia, and baby Emmett live was spared from the flames, barely. They are evacuees, along with visiting brother Craig and are staying in a nearby rooms. On a wedding anniversary, a Father's Day, a new baby eased the pain.

KAREN MOREAU: When I'm feeling really down, all I have to do is hold him. And man, back up there.

BILL MOREAU: Already, just talking about him alleviates my emotional stress.

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen with three generations of Moreaus, Colorado Springs.


ROMANS: Welcome to the world, Emmett.

BERMAN: Tell me about it.

ROMANS: Quite a 10 days.

BERMAN: What will today hold? Indra Petersons is tracking all the conditions for us. Good morning, Indra. What will the weather hold today? Will it be helping the firefighters?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right now, every little bit they're getting is helping. And they are still seeing a little bit of that moisture coming in. I can actually show you that water vapor satellite again, which shows you how much moisture is moving in the area. It's very easy to see.

Two - a little bit closer, we're seeing a lot of this moisture kind of cruising in. And this is what we've been continuing to see over the weekend. I remember the difference from last few days we had zero percent containment to now, all this thanks to the moisture. You can tell in the morning hours, they are seeing a little bit of recovery, about 40 percent humidity right now. That is a good number. Of course, as they go through the afternoon, we heat things up, things dry up. But they're not in the teens and the single digits. So we're going to get another day or so where they continue to have a chance for thunderstorms, even a little bit of rain. But by midweek, the threat again for more warm temperatures and dry humidity back in the forecast.

Into the northeast, more rain, where they continue to have more than they need. Look at these numbers. They're a good five to seven inches above normal and it looks like more in store for us today. And rain really the story across much of the country into the Southeast right along this cold front; looks like more rain for them as well.

BERMAN: I thought we were done? All right, Indra, thank you so much.

New eavesdropping accusations rocking the world right now of international diplomacy. How about inviting all the world leaders over to talk and then spying on them? "The Guardian" newspaper reporting that British spies monitored the computers and phone calls of diplomats of the 2009 G-20 summit in London. They even apparently set up fake Internet cafes so they could gain access to delegates' e- mails. At the same meetings, "The Guardian" says the U.S. was trying to listen in on world leaders as well, including the Russian president.

The accusations are part of the documents given to the paper by Edward Snowden, the former defense contractor who last week revealed details of the NSA program collecting massive amounts of phone call and computer data.

ROMANS: Politicians in this country are jumping to the defense of the NSA's PRISM Program insisting it's necessary to protect the nation. Dana Bash has that.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A full-court Obama administration press to calm Americans' concerns about secret surveillance programs led by the Republican House intelligence chairman.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: If you can see just the number of cases where we have actually stopped a plot, I think Americans will come to a different conclusion than all the misleading rhetoric I've heard over the last few weeks.

BASH: Intelligence agencies are now working to declassify specifics about dozens of terror plots that the National Security Agency director told Congress the secret programs helped disrupt. Over the weekend, the government unveiled a teaser -- this document claiming phone data collection programs have helped prevent terror plots, quote, "here in the homeland and in more than 20 countries around the world."

Supporters of the surveillance programs are trying to beat back suggestions the government is listening in on calls in the U.S. ROGERS: It's against the law for the NSA to record and monitor U.S. Americans' phone calls.

BASH: Another supporter, Dick Cheney, someone who rarely agrees with the Obama White House, does on this. The GOP vice president on the day of 9/ll says these programs could have prevented that attack.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I guess I'd ask everybody to pause and don't automatically fold the NSA in with the other stuff that's going on in the Obama administration. Because this a program run by professionals; it's done great work; it has saved lives.

BASH: But naysayers, like Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, are not giving up.

SEN. MARK UDALL, (D-CO), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think collecting millions and millions of Americans' phone calls -- now this is the metadata, this is time, place, to whom you direct the calls -- is making us any safer.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Six minutes after the hour. President Obama and the First Family arriving in Belfast in Northern Ireland overnight for the G-8 summit. The world's largest economies will be talking security and foreign policy. You can see the president right now; this is his arrival event, his speech. He's listening very closely, as you can see, touching his ears.

The situation in Syria is front and center there for the president and his fellow world leaders. The president's first big meeting is with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. I wonder if he'll ask about that Super Bowl ring.

ROMANS: All right, First Lady Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters also in Ireland where they plan to tour Dublin separate from the president. Mrs. Obama will see the Book of Kells at Trinity College, attend a special performance of River Dance, and meet with U.S. embassy staff. The Obams will travel onto Germany once the G-8 summit ends.

BERMAN: I'm not sure any performance of River Dance is special anymore.

Five of the men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks set to appear before a Guantanomo Bay military tribunal today. Admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the four other men who helped organize and fund the attacks are asking that their charges be dismissed. They insist the military commissions are invalid.

The president is set to name D.C. area lawyer Cliff Sloan to oversee the shutdown of the prison camp; that's news. Secretary of State John Kerry calling him a skilled negotiator who's respected across party lines. ROMANS: Jury selection is entering its second week in the trial of Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. He's charged with murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The defense hopeful a jury may be selected by the middle of the week. So far 29 potential jurors have passed an initial screening; at least 75 have been dismissed.

BERMAN: A deadly weekend in Chicago. "The Chicago Tribune" says 41 people were shot, seven killed, in separate incidents across the city. The Chicago Police Department insisting it's not a sign the cit's crime fighting strategies are not working. The overall homicide rates is down in Chicago, they say. Last year, more than 50 people were shot and nine died over a similar weekend, if you can believe that.

He was considered the only moderate candidate in Iran's presidential election but following Hassan Rouhani's surprise victory there are questions now about just how moderate the Islamic cleric really is. Rouhani won the election decidedly, getting more than 50 percent of the vote and avoiding a run-off. He called it a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity over extremism.

ROMANS: An about-face in North Korea, now telling the U.S. "Let's talk." But the offer comes with ground rules: no demands that Pyongyang give up its nuclear assets unless Washington does the same. The Obama administration says it's open to talks, but only if North Korea shows it will comply with U.N. resolutions and live up to its international obligations. They say we'll judge North Korea by its actions, not its words.

BERMAN: Advantage, Spurs. San Antonio now one win away from an NBA title. They beat the Heat last night 114-104 in Game 5 of the series. Tony Parker led the way with 26 points, but you know the star last night was Manu Ginobili starting for the first time all season. He normally comes off the bench. He scored 24 points. They said he was too old for this game; he showed them no way. I'm young at 35.

The Spurs went on a 19-1 run in the second half that really broke the game open. They can close out the Heat completely tomorrow night, Game 6 back in Miami.


BERMAN: Can I show you one thing? It was Father's Day this weekend, and my son gave me a Father's Day tie and I told him that I would wear it on TV.

ROMANS: I love it. Your children are like children of the '70s. Nice wide tie.

BERMAN: Well, he tells me, he tells me, "Daddy, I know you like checks." So he gave me this with the checks on it.

ROMANS: Oh, that's so sweet. All the Berman boys are adorable.

BERMAN: So coming up, a Super Bowl scandal involving the Kremlin. Did Russia's president really steal a Super Bowl ring? Vladimir Putin, really?

ROMANS: And an amazing family reunion. A woman searching for her birth father finds him 24 years later, so close, and in the most unexpected of places. Could it have been fate?


ROMANS: Turning to Turkey now and the protests that have that country on edge. Authorities pushed activists out of Istanbul's Gezi Park over the weekend and there were violent clashes between police and protesters in several cities. That as Prime Minister Erdogan tried to rally his supporters.

Karl Penhall joins us now on the phone from Istanbul this morning. What's the latest, Karl?

KARL PENHALL, ISTANBUL, TURKEY (via telephone): Well, of course we know that over the weekend, those supporters, protesters, were driven out of Gezi Park by water cannons and by tear gas being wielded by the riot police. And my fear was that once that happened, that this protest may dissolve in some way, that it would be fragmented. But it seems the quite contrary is happening. It seems that the ripple effect is now going on.

So as protesters head back to their own neighborhoods of Istanbul, what they're doing is launching neighborhood protests. And right now, we're in a very middle class, sedate, normally sedate area of Istanbul. And what the neighbors did here last night was rip up paving slabs that were being used for street renovation and have set up huge barricades in the middle of one of the main streets to prevent police coming through.

That was the stage ground for (INAUDIBLE) with riot police here and also in other parts of Istanbul that seems there is still fight in this protest. The protesters aren't giving up.

And of course, the list of demands has now grown. It has gone way beyond saving some trees and preventing a shopping mall being built. But the demands now include both Prime Minister Erdogan to climb down and not mix religion with politics and to tail (ph) back some of what they believe is his (INAUDIBLE) authority and rule. So it's to say right now, no sign that these protests are dying down, Christine.

ROMANS: Karl Penhall in Istanbul, Turkey. Thank you, Karl.

BERMAN: 15 minutes after the hour. A confessed hitman expected to take the stand today in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger. The accused ex-mob boss is charged with killing 19 people, corruption, and racketeering. John "The Executioner" Monterano is set to testify that he was Bulger's trigger man, killing 10 of those 19 victims. The jury has heard from the pair of ex-bookies who said the Winter Hill gang shook them down for thousands a month in protection money.

ROMANS: Rutgers University's new athletic director officially starts work today with a cloud still hanging over her appointment. Julie Hermann got the job after Tim Pernetti was dismissed for not being tougher on basketball coach Mike Rice after a video surfaced of Rice abusing his players.

Hermann also faced abuse allegations by former players at the University of Tennessee, but Rutgers is standing behind her and Hermann her past experiences will make her better at her new job.

BERMAN: A very special Father's Day for a Phoenix woman and her father, reunited after 24 years. Amy Roberson was put up for adoption shortly after birth. She's been looking for her father while volunteering at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. Well, it winds up he was volunteering there, too, and neither one knew it.


AMY ROBERSON, DAUGHTER: Incredible to see both of us in the same place so comfortable and so familiar.

WILL RUSSELL, FATHER: But when you think about Father's Day, in my mind, I think about my heavenly father and what he's done for me. And I think how he's blessed me to be a father, and it's made my family complete.


BERMAN: Amazing. The two of them spent Sunday as their first Father's Day together in more than two decades.

ROMANS: Wow. Russian president Vladimir Putin is caught up in a new international scandal, an incident, rather, that has nothing to do with the Middle East, human rights, or economics.

Alina Cho explains.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the theft heard 'round the world. Or was it? The real story's still a mystery. Did Russian president Vladimir Putin steal a Super Bowl ring from New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft? Kraft says yes.

ROBERT KRAFT, PATRIOTS OWNER: I'm tremendously humbled by this great honor.

CHO: This is Kraft at an event in New York last week accepting the Carnegie Hall medal of excellence and bringing up the story that first surfaced in 2005. That's when Kraft met with Putin in St. Petersburg. Kraft says he showed Putin his shiny, new $2500 diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring engraved with his name on it when Putin said, according to Kraft at the gala, quote, "He goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring.' I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."

So Putin swiped it? Not according to one aide who says he was a witness. In a statement to CNN, Putin's spokesman said, "I was there when it happened. So what Mr. Kraft is saying is weird. I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift." According to "The New York Post", which first broke the story, Kraft said that White House officials actually urged him to say it was a gift in the interest of U.S.-Soviet relations. And in a statement back then, Kraft said the same. A spokesman Kraft Group now adds, "It's a humorous anecdotal story Robert retells for laughs. He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin."

Which still doesn't answer the lingering question of whether the ring was a gift or a lift.

2005 was the Bush administration. And on Sunday, we caught up with former vice president, Dick Cheney.

CHENEY: I don't know anything about it. I just heard a brief blurb on it this morning.

CHO (on-camera): As for the ring, it is now on display at the Kremlin Library. And while Kraft continues to dodge the question of which version of the story is true, was the ring a gift or did Putin take it, Putin held a news conference with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. And while there were many questions about Syria, not a single one about the Super Bowl ring. So the mystery continues.

Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Well, the president meets with Vladimir Putin today, President Obama does. Maybe it will come up as part of their negotiations.

ROMANS: Or maybe not.

Coming up, Apple helping the feds spy on you. How much the computer giant has given to the U.S. government? We have the answer.


BERMAN: That looks like a velvet, one of those velour, velvety pictures, it's so nice. But it's real. That's actually real life New York City. That is not some velvet, you know, Elvis painting.

ROMANS: It looks beautiful. No dogs playing poker or nothing. It's just a beautiful sunrise over New York. Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

It's money time. Dow futures are up more than 100 points this morning. Happy Monday. Investors gearing up for Federal Reserves interest meeting this week. Concern about the meeting had a lot to do with some of the volatility we have seen in the markets lately. The Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent each last week. The Dow has been down three of the past four weeks, but it looks like it will be up this morning. Apple says it received as many as 5,000 requests for customer data from U.S. law enforcement authorities. It was collected over a six month period this year. The most common request was from police investigating robberies and other crimes. Apple says it "always placed a priority on protecting our customers' personal data, and we don't collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place."

The company says conversations over Face Time and iMessage are completely protected. Apple joins Facebook and Microsfot in disclosing data requests from the government in the wake of that NSA leaker controversy.

Jay-Z's new album could go platinum before it's even released to the public. Samsung bought 1 million copies of Jay-Z's Magna Cart Holy Grail album and it's releasing it to Samsung Galaxy users on July 4, three days before the album's official public release. It's free for Galaxy users because Samsung is buying the album. "Wall Street Journal" says the company paid $5 apiece; that means Jay-Z could have $5 million in sales before the album is even out. And for Samsung, the popularity of the album could help it in its ongoing battle with Apple for market share.

BERMAN: That's crazy.

ROMANS: It's a really interesting marketing move.

BERMAN: It's a good deal for Jay-Z.

ROMANS: It's like the new world. It used to be like movies tied up with fast food. Now your phones - I mean, it's fascinating just some of the things we're seeing.

BERMAN: Jay-Z is in fact a big star, but not as big in some people's minds as Barry Manilow, who turns 70 today.

ROMANS: Oh, that's true. Happy birthday, Barry.

BERMAN: Happy birthday, Barry. Coming up, happening now, world leaders convening as an international spy scandal emerges. Spying on your allies? How would you pull that off and why?

ROMANS: And toddlers missing. The search for two young children, both vanishing under mysterious circumstances. What their parents are saying this morning.