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NSA Leaker on the Run; Supreme Court Decides; Daredevil Nik Wallenda Sets Tightroping Record; Stock Futures Weaker This Morning

Aired June 24, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The George Washington Bridge, a beautiful look at New York City right there. Just a short while ago, there was a super moon hanging over the city. Now, it's just a super morning here in a super city.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A super Monday morning. Welcome back. It's about 56 minutes after the hour.

Taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this. It was monsters versus zombies in the multiplex end. Monsters won. "Monsters University" top the box office, earning $82 million on its opening weekend. The second biggest opening for a Pixar film ever.

Brad Pitt big budget zombies flick "World War Z" came in number two at $66 million, a respectable, respectable week. It's on pace to earn back the nearly $200 million it cost to make.

BERMAN: It's a budget film.

All right. Jim Carrey is not happy apparently with his latest role. The actor is distancing himself from the movie, "Kick Ass" -- excuse me -- "Kick Ass 2."

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: It is set to come out in August. He plays a military colonel who does things like letting dogs attack his enemies. Carrey tweeting, "I did kickass a month before Sandy Hook. Now, in all good conscience, I cannot support that level of violence." And he apologized to those involved writing, "I'm not ashamed of it, but recent events caused a change in my heart."

The movie is based on the comic book and the author said, he's surprised by the criticism since Carrey had the screenplay for some 18 months.

ROMANS: Again, that was before Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook, clearly, clearly affected actor Jim Carrey.

All right. More trouble for actress Lisa Robin Kelly. Now, she's been arrested for possibly driving drunk. Officers helped her move a car off in a southern California interstate this weekend. That's when they noticed signs of intoxication. She was released on bail last November. She and her husband were arrested in connection with a disturbance at their North Carolina home.

BERMAN: All right. Check out other top CNN trends, head to

This special edition of EARLY START, so much news continues right now.

ROMANS: Wanted and on the run. The man who exposed the government's secret spy program avoiding arrest and creating a diplomatic drama. Where he's headed this morning and who the U.S. is blasting for helping him so far.

BERMAN: And former South African president, Nelson Mandela taking a turn for the worst. The world is watching this. He is in critical condition this morning. We'll have a live report from South Africa just ahead.

ROMANS: And did you see this stunt? Daredevil Nik Wallenda -- look at this -- tight rope walking across the Grand Canyon. No harness or safety net. It gets windy. The line starts to shake. It's super dramatic. We're going to tell you more about the amazing feat, coming up.

BERMAN: Christine Romans said wow at least 76 times in relation to this story this morning.

ROMANS: There's just no way.

BERMAN: I would describe it as wow.

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

ROMANS: I get paid to talk and all I can say is --


ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, this Monday, June 24th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: We are going to begin with this big news that's been developing over night. It deals with Edward Snowden.

The NSA leaker now being charged with espionage by the United States. He is in Moscow. For now he is at least. He's expected to fly later today, maybe just an hour from now to Cuba en route, per happens ultimately to Ecuador, a country which he's asked for asylum.

The Obama administration not happy that Hong Kong lets Snowden leave and it wants Russia to return him to this country. It's an international game of Mad Libs here. "We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he's charged. "

A lot going on in this story. Our first report this morning from CNN's Phil Black in Moscow.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, there were early signs the government of Ecuador was playing a role in the face of Edward Snowden. The flag was a giveaway. This was the Ecuadorian ambassador's car parked outside. This official from the embassy somehow got lost inside the terminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to give any comments.

BLACK (on camera): Are you here in relation to Mr. Snowden at all?

(voice-over): The world learned of Snowden's sudden departure from Hong Kong when he was already in the air bound for Moscow on a commercial flight. A big group of Russian and international journalists waited to meet him. But Snowden stayed inside the terminal. Soon after, the government of Ecuador confirmed he had formally asked for asylum.

Ecuador is already protecting one other man, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Assange has been living in Ecuador's London embassy for the last year. In a statement, WikiLeaks said Snowden had asked the organization to help find a country to help protect him. It said, "He's bound for a Democratic nation via safe route for the purpose of asylum and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks."

Amid furious and changing speculation about where Snowden planned to go after Russia, the U.S. government asked Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba to refuse him entrance and his passport has been canceled.

(on camera): One important voice here hasn't been heard, the Russian government hasn't declared its response to Snowden's arrival. So, it's not known if it will let him leave, if it will try to extract further intelligence or insight, or if it will help the United States reclaim one of its most wanted citizens.

Phil Black, CNN, Moscow.


BERMAN: This story moving from country to country to country. It started with Snowden's departure from Hong Kong, which is drawing harsh criticism from Washington where the Obama administration's top lawmakers are not pleased at all that he was allowed to leave. Truly some of an embarrassment.

Our Brianna Keilar has that part of the story.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bombshell news that Edward Snowden had fled to Hong Kong, flying to Russia is triggering outrage from Congress.

Chuck Schumer warning Moscow of serious consequences. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: What's infuriating here is Prime Minister Putin aiding and abetting Snowden's escape. The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways. And Putin always seems eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States.

KEILAR: Hong Kong came under fire from Washington as well after its claim that the U.S. hadn't provided enough information to arrest Snowden. The Obama Justice Department saying, "Our extradition request met all the requirements." The DOJ arguing its first request to arrest Snowden came June 15th and that Hong Kong authorities raised questions only Friday.

Another lawmaker points to Beijing.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: China clearly had a role in this in my view. I don't think this was just Hong Kong without Chinese acquiescence.

KEILAR: Still, did the U.S. wait too long to charge Snowden? And U.S. officials tell CNN they revoked his passport only Saturday. With word he would seek asylum in Ecuador or elsewhere, the U.S. is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges and as such, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel.

And the head of the NSA publicly slammed Snowden.

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: This is an individual who is not acting in my opinion with noble intent.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: On the run this morning, again, perhaps taking off from Russia in about an hour. We will stay on top of the story all morning.

Meanwhile, President Obama talks immigration today, meeting with CEOs and business owners as he pushes for a plan that could lead to the reform of the nation's immigration system.

Meantime, the Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on a compromise deal that would beef up border security, that in exchange for allowing undocumented workers to eventually become legal.

ROMANS: It's decision day at the Supreme Court. The high court today could issue rulings in cases involving same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action. Some eleven cases are still pending. Observers say it's likely the court could add at least one more day to its calendar to issue some decisions.

BERMAN: Flooding that is devastating communities in western Canada, including large parts of Calgary may bring another town to its knees. Some 10,000 people have been evacuated from Medicine Hat, that's in southern Alberta, because of rising waters from the Saskatchewan River. Meantime, some 65,000 Calgary residents can now return home after evacuation orders there were lifted. However, the city is still under the state of emergency. The flooding in Canada now blamed for three deaths.

ROMANS: The pictures are so dramatic.

BERMAN: Really shocking.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons has her eye on the weather for us this morning.

Good morning, Indra.


Take a look at Canada first. We can see there were still some scattered showers in the area. But generally speaking, a lot of improvement on the way. There is a forecast from showers overnight tonight, but nothing like what they had. So, that is good news on that area. What is impressive, though, very atypical for this time of year is a lot of tropical moisture streaming into the Pacific Northwest.

Now, if you saw this in the wintertime, we'd be talking about eight to 10 inches of rain. Now, in June, it's still very typical. We are going to be talking about record-breaking rain, but the numbers are just record-breaking because it's typical so dry.

But still, from heavy rain anytime you have it, you have the flooding concern. Two to four inches for northern California and one to three inches out towards Oregon and Washington. But still, very unusual this time of year. And another reason that's important because we have an interesting system like this, making up towards warm and dry air. Now, we are talking about that fire danger.

So, what's good for the Pacific Northwest that's helping the drought conditions unfortunately means more critical fire danger, dry humidity and strong winds out across the Rockies today. So, that's the bad side of the storm.

As far as the rest of the country, yes, we still have a lot of rain out there. Nothing too heavy, typical afternoon thunderstorms in the Northeast, and some heavier showers out towards the South, just about an inch or so. It's a little hot and humid for us. We are used to that.

ROMANS: Happy Monday, everybody. Just a weekend away.

Thanks, Indra.

To South Africa now where Nelson Mandela's condition appears to be deteriorating. Officials there announcing that the 94 year old former president and anti-apartheid leader has been downgraded from serious to critical condition as he battles a lung infection.

Robyn Curnow is live this morning for us in Pretoria.

Good morning.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed, South Africans waiting anxiously for news. And when the news did come, it was bad, that his condition had deteriorated. That he is now in a critical condition in this hospital behind me.

President Jacob Zuma coming out just in the last hour saying, though, he is in good hands, that doctors are doing everything they can for him. That he's comfortable.

His family spoke to me over the weekend. This is what they had to say.



CURNOW (voice-over): On a cold winter's night, they came to sing for Nelson Mandela.

Behind one of these hospital windows, the 94-year-old Mandela battles a lung infection in the intensive care unit. His wife Graca sleeps her every night and the rest of his family visits during the day.

MAKI MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S DAUGHTER: I want him to be comfortable.

CURNOW (on camera): Comfortable. Is that all you can do for him now?

M. MANDELA: When you say is that all that can be done now, no. They haven't stopped treating him with all the best medication there is in the world.

CURNOW: Do you think he's at peace?

M. MANDELA: Yes. I believe he's at peace. I think he's at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world.

CURNOW (voice-over): While he is at peace, they say they are angry and uncomfortable with the intense media interest.

M. MANDELA: It is our dad. It is our dad. Nelson Mandela's runs through these veins, gives us the space to be with our father. Whether these are the last moments for us to be with my dad or there's longer, but they must back off.

CURNOW: For them, Mandela is not the global icon. He's a father, a grandfather, a husband who they don't want to share with the world at this critical time.

NDILEKA MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: We are claiming him. We are his prodigy.

CURNOW: And so they wait and hope. N. MANDELA: I strongly feel that whatever covenant he's made with his ancestors and god has not been fulfilled. When that is fulfilled, he will bow out in a way that he chooses.

CURNOW: Flames flicker, hymns are sung, a family asks for space. And the great man fights (ph).


CURNOW: Well, as you can imagine, the media contingent outside this hospital has grown since this latest update on his health. The family, obviously, is not going to be happy with that as they struggle with trying to deal with his deteriorating health. At the same time, also trying to keep the world abreast of how he's doing.

ROMANS: I know, because, Robyn, the world is watching, because we are a world in need of a great man and great men and great leaders. And he was clearly -- is clearly one of those. Somebody just so important to, you know, the collective history not just of South Africa, but the world.

Robyn Curnow, we'll watch with you. Thank you.

If you were up early Sunday, you may have seen the super moon. The so-called "super moon." Look at that. This happens every so often when the moon is at its closest point of the year and it becomes full around the same time.

It did look about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter. And, boy, did that moon really light up the sky.

BERMAN: In Boston, they called it the supa. It's supa. The supa moon. It really is cool.

All right. Coming up, we have other cool pictures to share with you. Shocking, incredible stunt man Nik Wallenda completing his Grand Canyon tight rope walk. Christine Romans, how would do you describe this?

ROMANS: Wow, wow.

BERMAN: No harness, no safety net. W will show you this death- defying feat, right after the break.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Some more trouble for already jet travel. The United Airlines 787 Dreamliner flying from Houston to Denver had to be diverted early Sunday because of the issue with a brake indicator. There were no injuries. The plane landed without incident.

Last Tuesday, another Dreamliner from Denver to Tokyo had to be diverted due to an oil filter problem. The plane had been grounded remember back in January because its battery system had been catching on fire.

BERMAN: So, Nik Wallenda, you are a braver man than I. Wiser, not so sure. Braver, definitely.

The daredevil tight rope walker just completed what may be the greatest of his death-defying stunts. He walked on air, across the Grand Canyon. Not really on air, he walked at a wire.

There was no harness. No net. But, hey, no problem.

CNN's Miguel Marquez watched it all.


NIK WALLENDA, DAREDEVIL: Shoes feel slippery. There's dust on the cable.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't start well.

WALLENDA: Need to relax more. Hard to relax 1,500 feet above the canyon.

MARQUEZ: Twenty-two minutes and 54 seconds of death-defying, vertigo- inducing thrill.

WALLENDA: That's a view there, buddy.

MARQUEZ: A two-inch cable stretching a quarter mile across the little Colorado River.

WALLENDA: I'm not liking it.

MARQUEZ: The most hair-raising part of the Discovery Channel- sponsored feat --

WALLENDA: Lord, help this cable to calm down.

MARQUEZ: When the seventh-generation daredevil's balance pole began swinging, teetering higher and higher.

WALLENDA: The winds are way worse than I expected.

MARQUEZ: Was he losing control.

WALLENDA: You'll have to tell me how long I'm on the wire.

MARQUEZ: Twice, he stopped, kneeling to regain his composure and steady the wire quivering under his feet.

WALLENDA: We're just a long way down.

MARQUEZ: Over hell hole bend and without a tether or safety harness, the 34-year-old thrill seeker sounding more like a preacher.

WALLENDA: Thank you, Lord.

MARQUEZ: High wires and high tension of Wallenda family trait. Our own Kate Bolduan recently had a lesson with him.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You make nervous into focus, is that how you --

WALLENDA: Yes. I mean, once it's time to go, it's time to go. After the first step, there's no turning back.

MARQUEZ: No turning back, another trait. Nik's great grandfather Karl Wallenda put the Flying Wallendas together in 1922. In 1978, in Puerto Rico, he fell 10 stories to his death.

That was ten months before Nik was born.

WALLENDA: My great grandfather Karl Wallenda said life is on the wire, and everything else is waiting. This is life.

MARQUEZ: Life on a wire, cheating death one more day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a scale, one to ten, what he did tonight was unbelievable. I mean, I'd give it a ten.

MARQUEZ: For the finale, Nik Wallenda ran to the finish.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Cameron, Arizona.


BERMAN: What do you think of running on a tight rope like that?

ROMANS: No way.

BERMAN: Just show it off.

ROMANS: No way.

BERMAN: It's crazy. I can't believe he kneeled on the wire. Niagara Falls, and he always he looked like he was in complete control. Not so much last night. He didn't talk about it.

ROMANS: My grandfather had a funny saying when he would see something like that, it's a slow way to serve the Lord. What's the point, he would say, you know? So, the point is thrill and doing -- a lot of people watching.

BERMAN: I think it's ratings in this case.

ROMANS: It makes me sick to my stomach.


ROMANS: All right. Another search this weekend at the home of the pro football Aaron Hernandez. Police are trying to figure out the death of a player whose body was found nearby. Saturday, authorities went through his home again, removing bags presumed to contain evidence. Hernandez has not been charged with the crime nor have police said what they are looking for to try to establish that connection between the two.

BERMAN: So, are millions of Medicare dollars being wasted by a few hundred doctors. That's what a government watchdog says. A new report finds that about 700 positions out of the 87,000 who take part in Medicare routinely prescribe a high number of drugs per patient, including painkillers and other indicative drugs. Those doctors are being called extreme outliers who cost Medicare millions of dollars a year. The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services today will present its findings to the Senate committee.

ROMANS: All right. Fans rallying to the defense of a celebrity chef, Paula Deen. They have overtaken the Food Network's Facebook page, upset a decision to not renew her contract, and asking management, Food Network management, to reconsider.

Last week, the Food Network announced it will not renew her contract after Deen admitted using racially insensitive language. Deen has since apologized and there's words she may be losing an endorsement, home shopping network QVC tells CNN it is re-examining its relationships with Paula Deen.

BERMAN: I have some great news for you this morning. They are back. Well, almost, at least. Mark your calendars, folks.

July 15th, the day when the new owner of the Hostess brand says that Twinkies and other snack cakes will be back on the shelves. Thank goodness.

Twinkies, Cupcakes and Ding Dongs were sold off when they went through bankruptcy. Now, the new owner says they tweaked a few recipes. I have to admit, that does concern me. They are talking about using dark cocoa for Cupcakes instead of milk chocolate. Hostess has filed for bankruptcy last year, laying off thousands of workers and selling off many of its iconic products. The snack cakes have been in short supply.

But the long national nightmare is soon over.

ROMANS: But before this, when was the last time you bought a Twinkie or Cupcake?

BERMAN: Bought? You know --

ROMANS: You see, that's the problem, you know?

BERMAN: Maybe it was five years ago, but they are still perfectly safe and valid in the wrappers in my closet. You don't have to buy them if you bought them 12 years ago, you're OK. Every bit is good. Lukewarm. Car temperature.

Nineteen minutes after the hour. Coming up, what a piece of a big hamburger chain? Maybe not. Why Smashburger isn't going to ideal route, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Good morning, New York. It's going to be a nice, bright, sunshiny day, muggy. I think Indra Petersons says it's going to be muggy in the Northeast. Yes, she's nodding yes.

BERMAN: She nodded yes.

ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. Happy Monday. It's money time.

Stock futures are weaker this morning following last week's selloff. The Dow and NASDAQ fell nearly 2 percent. S&P fell more than 2 percent. China's main stock index, guys, this is important, it plunged 5 percent today. It's a big move.

BERMAN: Yikes.

ROMANS: It closed its lowest level since 2009. This is on worries of a credit squeeze in China. Really watching what happens there and how the government manages it. Stocks across Asia fell as well.

Here in this country, the average pay of top bankers in the U.S. and in Europe by the way, dropped by 10 percent last year, marking the first decline in three years. According to the "Financial Times", the decline comes after a wave of high profile shareholder revolts and a number of legal scandals forced boards to rethink executive pay.

Don't feel too badly for these bankers. They took a pay cut. The average take home pay I still $11.5 million last year.

BERMAN: Suffering, suffering.

ROMANS: Slightly more than Berman makes.

The highest paid U.S. banker was Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, $19 million pay package.

BERMAN: I feel bad for those guys.

ROMANS: No, you do.

BERMAN: Whenever they tighten their belt.

ROMANS: I know.

If you are hungry -- speaking of tightening belt, if you're hungry for a piece of Smashburger, that IPO, you're going to have to snack on something else for a while. "The Wall Street Journal" says the Denver-based burger chain has secured $35 million from an investment firm. That money, plus some savings, gives Smashburger enough money for two or three more years.

Investors have been anticipating a Smashburger initial public offering to help raise cash for expansion, but they'll have to wait on that for now. There's a lot of buzz about a Smashburger IPO. But they've got the cash that --

BERMAN: I have never tried it, but it looks unhealthy, which makes me want to try it.

ROMANS: It's from Denver. It's like Denver, which is, you know, the middle of healthiness.

BERMAN: I would love to try it. Send one here, please.

Twenty-four minutes after the hour.

Coming up, the trial begins. Opening statements for the neighborhood watch commander accused of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. We're going to tell you what the jury will not hear in court.

ROMANS: And summer storms toppling trees in the Midwest. What's on deck today, folks, coming up next.