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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Propane Plant Explosion; Anthony Weiner Losing Support; Hillary Clinton's Breakfast Date with Biden; A-Rod's Lawyers to Fight Any Suspension; Hollywood's Top-Earning Women

Aired July 30, 2013 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh. Did you see that?

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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fireball. Florida gas plant up in flames this morning. Residents evacuated. Workers hospitalized. We are live.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Weiner falling fast. The New York mayoral candidate caught in the second sexting scandal of his career plummeting in the polls, but will Anthony Weiner drop out of the race?

BERMAN: Hawaaii hammered with range, trouble in paradise. Remnants of tropical storm, Flossie, flooding the streets knocking out power. We are tracking this storm.

PEREIRA: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Great to see you this morning. Thirty- one minutes after the hour.

PEREIRA: To our top story now, the flames lighting up the sky near Orlando. Look at that after a propane tank filling plant exploded. Residents say it went on for minutes shaking their homes. At least seven people have been injured. It happened in Tavares, Florida. John Couwels is there and he joins us on the phone. John, bring us up to date on the latest there.

VOICE OF JOHN COUWELS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michaela. Well, the latest news seems at this point that the fire is out. The fire crews have been working for the last four hours and continually dumping water on to the plant and the area around it trying to put out this fire which within -- almost like missiles launching into the air, exploding in with the fireball. That could be seen for miles around.

The area originally was evacuated with a one-mile perimeter. Everyone was removed from the area, but within the last hour, the roads have been open except for the road directly in front of the plant. And as you can see from the video at the time of the explosions, the fact that it did not happen at a main facility itself but offsite of the main building, thank God, that saved more than two dozen people who were at the plant working that night.

Seven were injured. We don't know their exact conditions at this point, but at least, we can say the majority of the people got out, you know, unharmed.

PEREIRA: Such a concern when you think about how many people work there and their lives could have been at risk. Any idea on the cause at this point and are there still concerns about any remaining safety issues in the area?

COUWELS: Well, there's certainly keeping us and the rest of the area -- the residents around it, but for most part down the street where the plant exactly is located is mostly residential -- is mostly a commercial area. So, I think the residents at least in this immediate area should be safe, but there are plenty of firefighters on scene standing by in case there is a flare-up, but they certainly have dumped a large amount of water on top of the area that was originally on fire.

PEREIRA: And they still have no idea what caused this.

COUWELS: No, not yet. Now that the investigation will begin. I know that sheriffs are all -- the fire department is on scene and we'll have to wait to see if federal authorities come out to investigate also to see what exactly caused the fire and the multiple explosions.

PEREIRA: A terrifying event there in Tavares. As you said, it's almost really a miracle that more people weren't injured or even killed. All right. Thanks for the very latest. That's John Couwels joining us on the phone.

BERMAN: Especially with so much to burn at that plant there, all that propane. All right. Now to the developing weather situation overnight. What was Tropical Storm Flossie has been battering Hawaii with rain, wind and lightning, and it may take some time before the islands are completely in the clear. Indra Petersons is tracking the storm for us. What's the latest, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, now, we know -- downgraded to a depression and lightning about the next 36 hours or so. We'll see it become a remnant low. Currently, still seeing steady winds about 35 miles per hour. You can actually tell weakened significantly right before coming ashore. So, that's good news.

It was a weak tropical storm. And about the next 72 hours or so, we expect it to become a remnant low. Really kind of difference here, notice the track here. Definitely kind of moving more in that west- northwesterly direction. The other thing unbelievable last night if you were around Central Kansas and Missouri last night, look at the heavy rain, 6.97 inches.

I mean, it's very slow-moving system, really kind of drenching the area with heavy rain and continues to move to the east today looking for another two to four inches in the Mississippi Valley. So, a lot of things going on. Low good news, offshore for the northeast, southeast, maybe a couple scattered showers. The big story is really going to be again as that low continues to make itself little bit further eastward we're going to be looking for heavy rain there.

The best news of all, though, is going to be this area of high pressure that's still kind of moving in through the Great Lakes area. All that even though it's high pressure is bringing in cold air down from Canada. So, look at this. I mean, very abnormally low temperatures looking about anywhere from five to 10 below average and keep in mind how hot it was just a week or so ago.

So, feeling pretty good. Pittsburgh today looking for 78, New York City seeing the 80s, and eventually, almost backward (ph) Chicago, they're actually talking about 70s, that cool air moving our way. The only bad side of that is once you get cooler air, you know a cold front is kind of coming there and the rain also the forecast in the northeast.

PEREIRA: Always blame Canada for that --

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PETERSONS: I agree.

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PEREIRA: I have nothing. I have nothing. Thanks, Indra.

Support for Anthony Weiner keeps eroding following the latest revelations about his online sex chats and his calls continue for him to drop out of the mayor race in New York City. Weiner continues to ignore them. We get more now from CNN's Rosa Flores.

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DENISE SAMPSON STEPHENS, NEW YORK VOTER: As a candidate, you should have moral values. And right now, I think that his moral values are shot.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Harsh words and even a harsher reality for embattled mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner. His poll numbers plummeting from first to fourth in a new Quinnipiac University Poll. The survey conducted after a new round of lewd internet chats were revealed. Take a look. The former congressman support dropping 10 percentage points in just five days from 26 to 16 percent.

ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to leave this to the people of the city of New York to decide. Period. End of conversation.

FLORES: His vow to stay in the race angering the Clintons. A source close to the political power couple tells CNN, they are livid with Weiner personally because they care about Huma. Adding salt to the wound, Democratic candidate for comptroller, Eliot Spitzer, trying to resurrect his own career after his own sex scandal is turning his back on Weiner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to vote for Anthony Weiner. Can you just say that now? You don't think he should be mayor of New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fair point. That is correct.

WEINER: I'm interested in what pundits say. I'm interested in what other politicians say but not that much.

FLORES: Despite all, he continues campaigning across the city and finding supporters at every stop -- voters in Queens with a little mandarin.

(SPEAKING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

FLORES: Making it clear he's fighting for every vote he can get.

Rosa Flores, CNN, New York.

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PEREIRA: Underway meanwhile, in San Diego, dueling efforts to get the mayor out of office. Two people have launched recall campaigns and are fighting with one another over who has the right to organize the vote. Mayor Bob Filner has been under fire after seven women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. He plans to attend what he called intensive therapy starting next week but is so far resisted calls to step down.

BERMAN: A controversial new series of abortion restrictions are now the law in North Carolina. Governor Pat McCrory has signed the bill which would require abortions take place in surgical centers. That, critics say, would force most clinics to shut their doors. Now, as a candidate, McCrory pledged that he would not approve any new abortion restrictions but said in the statement this measure will actually make the procedure safer.

PEREIRA: Hillary Clinton has a breakfast date this morning with Vice President Biden. The two will share a meal at the Naval Observatory, the vice president's official residence. This comes a day after the former secretary of state lunched with President Obama. Nice snapshot there. Aides say it was a friendly social meal. No politics.

BERMAN: Hmm.

PEREIRA: Aha. But it is upping up speculation about Clinton's potential run for the White House in 2016.

BERMAN: Indeed. And of course, Joe Biden also eyeing that race, too, so that breakfast this morning should be interesting.

Trayvon Martin's mother is joining the push to repeal the stand your ground law in Florida and elsewhere. Sybrina Fulton joined members of the National Bar Association in Miami Beach to tell reporters what she thought of the law in the wake of a jury's acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing her son.

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SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: The thing about this law is I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder. I think we have to change these laws so that people don't get away with murder.

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BERMAN: Florida's governor and some legislative leaders there have said, so far, they have no plans to hold a special session to review the law.

PEREIRA: All right. How about something completely unusual and strange, although, it's John Berman I'm talking to so --

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PEREIRA: I want to show you a giant bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

BERMAN: No way.

PEREIRA: About ten feet tall. Wide as a car. Apparently showed up on a lawn near Augusta, Georgia last week confusing the heck out of the person living there.

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ALEENA HEADRICK, WAYNESBORO RESIDENT: I was driving by. I saw this giant Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket in my yard. And I thought for sure that I was hallucinating. So, I called my teenagers who were at home and checked to have them go outside.

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BERMAN: All of my hallucinations actually involve ten-foot bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

PEREIRA: You know, see, as a former teenager, this seems like a prank that I might have pulled. Yes, it is really. Many people are stopping by to take their picture with this giant bucket. It winds up the landlord is the one that puts it there. He collects signs and thinks this giant bucket is about 40 years old.

He plans one day to mount it on a pole so it no longer is in the middle of the yard making his wife and other females very happy about that addition.

BERMAN: There's no chicken inside it.

PEREIRA: We have not looked so I cannot confirm those reports.

BERMAN: That would be genius. You know, ten feet worth of chicken. PEREIRA: Gigantic -- you want gigantic chicken?

BERMAN: I do.

PEREIRA: Or just gigantic amounts of chicken?

BERMAN: Amounts of chicken.

PEREIRA: OK.

BERMAN: Either way.

PEREIRA: Just want to be sure.

BERMAN: I take either way.

PEREIRA: All right. 5:40, still ahead in the news, Lea Michele, the actress, breaking her silence on her boyfriend and "Glee" co-star, Cory Monteith's tragic death. Next up, how she's remembering him.

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BERMAN: "Glee" star, Lea Michele, making her first public comments about the death of her co-star and her real-life boyfriend, Cory Monteith. Michele posted a personal photo on Twitter and wrote "Cory will forever be in my heart." Monteith died earlier this month of an apparent overdose involving heroin and alcohol.

PEREIRA: Heavy smokers are being told get an annual CT scan. A government panel is recommending the test to check for lung cancer among those over 55 who regularly smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years. The goal, officials say, is to prevent thousands of lung cancer deaths each year. But doctors still say their main message has not changed. Don't smoke or if you do, quit.

BERMAN: Annual CAT scans, that's got to be expensive.

PEREIRA: Very expensive.

BERMAN: A real mystery at the site where scientists found the bones of Richard III. Check out this coffin. It was dug up last week in a parking lot in the English town of Lester. The inner container is made of lead, the outer one of stone, and inside a skeleton.

PEREIRA: Wasn't that what's supposed to be there?

BERMAN: A skeleton. It's not clear whose remains these are, but the parking lot was once an English monastery and the bones could have belonged to a 13th century nobleman. Chances are not a friend of yours. But still, a very exciting and interesting that as where they found Richard III was a big discovery last year.

PEREIRA: OK. So, they're trying to figure out who this is --

BERMAN: A friend, you know, a colleague, but it was a well-known monastery there and, of course, the coffin inside a coffin with a skeleton inside, I think, only adds to the intrigue there.

PEREIRA: Intriguing much like "NEW DAY."

BERMAN: Exactly. Not nearly as intriguing as "NEW DAY." What is going on on that show of yours? Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": It's more intriguing when they open up a casket and they find no skeleton.

PEREIRA: My thoughts exactly.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Also, intriguing. But since that's not occurring --

CUOMO: We're not dealing with this casket in a casket mystery that you're unfolding so nicely there, but here, we are dealing with our own kind of odd morbid march that's become known as Anthony Weiner's race for mayor. You know, just when I was about to write it off and say, you know what, I'm over it. I'm done with that. I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Polls come out. His numbers are dropping. Makes sense, the voters decide these kinds of thing, not us. Then, the man on the other side of your screen, Eliot Spitzer, he says he wouldn't vote for him and just like that, I'm back in, Kate Bolduan, because for Eliot Spitzer to say anything about Anthony Weiner is worth conversation.

BOLDUAN: It is worth conversation and we're going to keep the conversation going. We're going to talk to Weiner's really chief opponent, the city council speaker, Christine Quinn. She's going to be joining us on the show.

And also, this is never good news for any parent. A nasty, nasty stomach virus is affecting hundreds of people more than 300 people in 14 states at this point. Sanjay Gupta is going to be joining us on what you need to know about this parasite and why they're having such a hard time figuring out where it's coming from.

CUOMO: Yes. And they're getting it, too. Everybody is getting it. It's not just the kids.

BOLDUAN: Keep it out of the studio.

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CUOMO: That's what I'm going to get.

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CUOMO: And, Pope Francis, OK. So, we expect the pontiff to say very little about things, especially controversial things to keep stability especially in an organization like the Catholic Church, however, he makes statements. What does he talk about? Divorce and communion. Big deal. Women priests, gays as his brothers. What's going on here? Real change or not so much?

BOLDUAN: Or lip service.

CUOMO: We will have a brilliant priest on to discuss and a far less brilliant person on to rebut the presumptions that the brilliant priest makes. No names.

BERMAN: No names.

PEREIRA: All right.

BERMAN: That is a show I am going to watch. That sounds --

CUOMO: You will, John Berman. You are paid to watch it.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: True, but I will watch it anyway.

BOLDUAN: You could have left that part out.

BERMAN: Thanks, guys. We'll see you in a little bit.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

PEREIRA: I will join you in a minute.

BERMAN: Coming up, will Alex Rodriguez return to the field this season? Ever? Major League Baseball may have a new plan to suspend the Yankees slugger. The "Bleacher Report," next.

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BERMAN: Major League Baseball could hand down a major suspension to Alex Rodriguez. It could come as soon as today, but do not expect A- Rod to go down without a fight. Andy Scholes joins us now with more in the "Bleacher Report."

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, John. Well, on a New York radio show yesterday, A-Rod's lawyers said not only do they plan on fighting any suspension or lifetime ban, their goal is for A- Rod to face no discipline at all. Now, latest twist in the A-Rod versus Major League Baseball battle is that Bud Selig is looking to suspend A-Rod for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and also for violating the collective bargain agreement.

That's according to multiple reports. A suspension for violating the CBA would allow Selig to suspend A-Rod immediately in what is known is the best interest of baseball privilege. A-Rod still owed a little less than $100 million for the next five years. And for every 50 games he's suspended, the Yankees would say they whopping $7.5 million.

Well, the Milwaukee Brewers are hoping that the way to a fan's broken heart is through their stomach. The team will be giving away $10 vouchers in an effort to give back to the fans for the team's poor performance and the suspension of Ryan Braun for his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The vouchers which will be given to any fan attending a Brewers home game in August can be used for food, drinks, merchandise, and tickets.

All right, John, this is a story I'm sure had you yelling at your TV last night. The Red Sox have a legitimate gripe with the umpires from last night's game. Check this out. Boston's Daniel Nava running home in eighth inning, slides in, clearly safe, but the umpire terrible position calls him out.

BERMAN: Clearly safe.

SCHOLES: Unbelievable. you know, this would have been a tying run. Instead, it's the final out of eighth and the Rays, they go on to win the game and now they take the lead in the American --

BERMAN: That was first place. That blown call cost the Red Sox first place.

SCHOLES: Yes. Hopefully, they can get a win tonight and get right back up there, but, let's go on to this story. Pretty cool deal. Fresh off their Stanley Cup win, the Chicago Blackhawks giving their fans a chance to own a piece of history and that piece of history is ice or better yet, melted ice. The Blackhawks selling a limited number of souvenir packages that include actual melted ice from the United Center.

The proceeds are going to local charities. The fans, they can follow the team on Twitter to get more information. Pretty interesting idea. You see NBA teams give away a piece of the floor from their championship years. Never seen melted ice in little vials. I don't know what happens if you drink it, John.

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BERMAN: But I've never seen that before. That sort of awesome. What a great gift idea. All right, Andy Scholes, great to see you. Appreciate it, my friend. We'll be right back.

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BERMAN: An indictment for a real-life housewife. Teresa Guidice and her husband, Joe, are facing federal fraud charges after prosecutors say they lied about their income and employment. They face 39 counts in all including bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. If convicted, they could each get up to 50 years in prison.

Teresa Guidice, said in a statement said, she's hopeful they can resolve this matter with the government quickly.

So, who are the real heavy hitters in Hollywood among actresses? "Forbes" is out with its list. And number one, Angelina Jolie. The Oscar winner earned $33 million over the last 12 months. That despite taking time off for a double mastectomy. Number two, Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence who "Forbes" says took in $26 million. Also on the list, "Twilight's" Kristen Stewart with $22 million. Jennifer Aniston at 20 million, and Emma Stone, "Forbes" says that she earned $16 million. Remember, ladies, money cannot buy you happiness, but it can buy you lots and lots of stuff.

That's all for EARLY START. Time for "NEW DAY." Take it away, guys.

BOLDUAN: I think we don't even need to start the show. That's a perfect way to end it right there.

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CUOMO: That was like Jack Handy kind of deepness coming from John Berman. I'm happy, though, that we're featuring the young female actresses. Remember, we had the actors last week. There are no women on the list.

BOLDUAN: I know.

CUOMO: They're all so young.

BOLDUAN: And they're all very young.

CUOMO: Very hopeful for the future of the big screens.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thank you, John Berman. We'll see you in a bit.

CUOMO: Oh, look at the time. Almost the top of the hour. You know what that means on "NEW DAY," time for the top news.