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State Department Closing Middle East Embassies Sunday; Egypt Unrest; Wildfires in Pacific Northwest; Ariel Castro: Life Without Parole Plus 1,000 Years; Stocks Soaring

Aired August 2, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. embassy is shutting down. A terror threat closing the doors to more than a dozen embassies and consulates around the world.


MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAP SURVIVOR: I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Locked up for life. A man who kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned three women in his home for a decade faces one of the heroic survivors in court. He tries to explain why he's not a monster.

ROMANS: Stocks soaring to a record day on Wall Street. This as we're just hours away from a new jobs report. What all this means to your money.

BERMAN: Those are the only good things.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, August 2nd. It is Friday -- the good news it's Friday. And the bad news is it's 5:00 a.m. It's early -- 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Up first this morning, big news -- a serious and credible terror threat prompting the U.S. State Department to close more than a dozen embassies and consulate on Sunday in the Middle East and across the Muslim world, including those in Egypt and Israel. Officials say the unspecified let is directed at U.S. targets overseas and may not be confined to diplomatic posts.

We'll get more now from CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an extraordinary move, the U.S. is closing embassies around the world after what one senior U.S. official told CNN was more than the usual chatter about a potential terrorist threat. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The department has been apprised of information that out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installation, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps.

STARR: The move comes as the holy days that mark the end of Ramadan approach at merely a year after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, the embassy in the capital Tripoli will be closed.

Other embassies in the Middle East also posted they will be shut.

From Egypt, where nearly a year ago violent protests threaten the embassy in Cairo, to Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Riyadh, and Doha, Qatar. All embassies that, quote, "would have been normally open on Sunday are being shut down," and the closings may expand to include additional days.

Another official told CNN the Obama administration is monitoring threats against the American embassy in Yemen.

The move came on the same day President Obama met with the president of Yemen who has cracked down on al Qaeda.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we've seen is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP move back out of territories that it was controlling.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


BERMAN: The American consulate in Jerusalem will be among the diplomatic posts shut down last Sunday.

That's where CNN's Vladimir Duthiers is standing by live this morning.

What's the latest, Vlad?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Well, even as we were setting up for this shot, official from the U.S. consulate right behind me here came out and asked what we were doing and then proceeded to tell us that they are on heightened alert, that they have just this morning themselves security officials outside of the U.S. consulate received a warning that there are credible threats across all embassies in the Middle East.

In addition to that, we know that today is Quds Day in Iran. Millions in Iran and across the Muslim world have been called on by the Iranian foreign ministry to protest the Palestinian situation here in Israel and the Palestinian territories -- Quds being the Arabic world for Jerusalem. So, Jerusalem Day has been declared in Iran today.

And this goes back to 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini was one of the first to make this the Friday of Ramadan, he decided to brand it Quds Day. So, heightened alert here. Even where we are standing back here with the consulate behind us, don't see much activity now. But they've already told us they are on heightened alert, John.

BERMAN: Heightened alert. A finite thing, Vlad. This will pass this weekend. Then, on Monday, it's back to business as usual?

DUTHIERS: Well, you know, this is the last Friday of Ramadan. Ramadan will end next week. Typically, there have been protests around this. We are only a few days away from the anniversary of the Benghazi attacks and, of course, September 11th, 2001.

So, you know, right now it doesn't -- there hasn't been any word that they will have business as usual. We assume it might be the case. But so far, we tried calling the United States embassy here in Israel, and we haven't heard back. But, right now, I would say that it's unclear at this point.

BERMAN: All right. Vladimir Duthiers in Jerusalem, that is just one of the places that will be shut down over this weekend over this word of terror threat affecting many U.S. outposts overseas. Thanks a lot.

ROMANS: Meantime, Egypt bracing for more possible violence today. Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy calling for a million man march against Egypt's new military rulers following Friday prayers.

People from mosques around the country are being asked to march under the banner Egypt against the coup. The call for new protests coming after Egypt's acting interior minister called on pro-Morsy demonstrators to leave Cairo, while guaranteeing their safe exit.

BERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. expects to end drone strikes inside Pakistan soon. Those were his words. Kerry is in Pakistan meeting with the country's leaders there. He said in a television interview that President Obama has a very real timeline for ending the drone strikes.

The number of these unmanned attacks in Pakistan has dropped significantly in recent years, largely because of al Qaeda's decline there.

ROMANS: Case closed. An investigation into the mine collapse that trapped 33 Chilean miners underground for more than two months ended with no charges filed against the mine owners. The miners became heroes in their country after their globally televised rescue in 2010. One of the rescued miners called the decision by government prosecutors a disgrace to Chile's justice system.

BERMAN: Italy's highest court upholding former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conviction for tax fraud. He received a four-year sentence to be served any time. It will likely be only a year under the amnesty program. An Italian judge also ordered a lower court to reexamine a ban on 76-year-old Berlusconi holding public office.

ROMANS: A new month, a brand new month, and a new round of record highs for stocks. Investors loving the news. The weekly jobless claims fell to 5 1/2 year low.

All three major indices soaring yesterday. The Dow and S&P 500 closing at records. Much more on this blockbuster day on Wall Street in 15 minutes. We're also looking at the big July jobs report. That's due out at 8:30 Eastern.

So, there's a lot going on, John, but I'm telling you right now, you have had a fantastic year in your 401(k). You really need to look and make sure you were balanced.

BERMAN: Fantastic.

Jobs report is like a Super Bowl for Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Yes, it is.

BERMAN: Fire crews in the Pacific Northwest have their hands full this morning. A dozen major wildfires now in Washington state and Oregon threatening homes, forcing evacuations there. The fires have charred more than 200 square miles so far in Oregon. One firefighter was killed and another injured when they were struck by a falling tree.

Indra Petersons is here.

Can firefighters expect any help from the weather over the coming days?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That is the good news. At least the mechanics couple of days, they are going to see some cooler air.

What I wanted to explain to everyone is pretty much right on track. If you notice, in July, we were still looking at that fire threat right around the Four Corners. The difference is, remember, all those flooding stories we talked about the monsoonal moisture, well, all that moisture came from the Gulf, and now we're not seeing that fire danger really anymore in the Four Corners and really just remaining here on the West Coast.

As far as the outlook immediately for the next 24 to 48 hours, yes, they have a nice flow. You can actually see the difference in the temperatures here, 60s and 70s where we're seeing the cooler air, and right in the inside of the jet stream, we're seeing those 80s.

Yes, for a couple of days, it looks good. But, unfortunately, behind that, they are going to be warming up by about the middle of the week. But, again, it's that time of the year in that location that they do have that fire threat.

Otherwise, let's go to Gil. Hurricane Gil, still a hurricane seeing those steady winds at 85 miles per hour. What is so interesting here is, notice, this is Gil. We've got a 25 percent chance of circulation in front of it developed, as well as the one behind it. The only good side of this, is a lot of times they compete with each other and they all die out. So, that's what we're hoping for. Gil, itself, with the current track, it's still going to remain strong for about a day or so as it remains in warm waters. Behind that, it will cool and the good news, it stays south and it dissipates and no longer be a threat for Hawaii. But, of course, we continue to monitor it as things can change.

Dorian, well, look at that, right around Florida. All the moisture making its way over the Bahamas. Looks like from heavy rain expected from Miami and the Keys today. We'll be watching that.

Everyone else, we're talking about just scattered showers throughout the weekend. Pretty much anywhere from the Midwest to the Mid- Atlantic. So, check the forecast.

BERMAN: Thanks very much, Indra. And great hair today, by the way.

PETERSON: Thank you, John. I saw you somewhere yesterday.

BERMAN: We had our hair done yesterday together. That's totally not a joke at all. That's completely 100 percent.

ROMANS: That is a piece of information that had just rocked my world, breaking news. Thanks, guys.

A surprise treat for visitors at Yellowstone National Park, the world's tallest geyser. The Steamboat erupting this week for the first time in eight years. And it was a massive walk up call.

Officials say the eruption sent steam -- look at that -- 200, 300 feet in the air. Then this geyser steamed for about 24 hours.

BERMAN: That is an amazing sight.

ROMANS: It is. It's really cool.

BERMAN: In related news, a bad time to get in line for the next time. It will be eight years. You'll be waiting a long time. To see that happened again. But that was beautiful.

Coming up here --


ARIEL CASTRO, CONVICTED KIDNAPPER: Most of the sex that went on in the house, all of it was consensual. These allegations about being forceful, that is totally wrong, because it was time that they would even ask me for sex.


BERMAN: A deeply troubling, some might even say offensive performance there inside the mind of a madman. Ariel Castro defending himself to a judge as one of the women he kidnapped, raped and imprisoned for more than a decade, the hero in this history and make sure her voice is heard.

ROMANS: And "Glee" moving forward. We know how FOX's hit show will deal with Cory Monteith's fatal drug overdose.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Ariel Castro's sentence will last a lot longer than he will. The Cleveland man who held three women captive in his home for a decade is getting life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years. Castro spoke at his sentencing hearing yesterday, and he blamed everyone, it seemed, but himself. And he got an earful from one of his victims.

CNN's Martin Savidge has more.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the courtroom where Ariel Castro was sentenced, it was the words of one victim and those who spoke for the others that will be remembered. Michelle knight was the only victim to appear in person, bringing the proceedings to an emotional halt. She had suffered the most and the longest in captivity from Castro, which is why her words meant so much.

KNIGHT: You took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning.

SAVIDGE: Small in stature, her strength seemed to fill the entire courtroom. Knight said fellow captive Gina DeJesus was her teammate, the only good to come from so much horror, a horror she put in her own words.

KNIGHT: I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day.

SAVIDGE: Speaking on behalf of Gina DeJesus was her cousin, Sylvia Colon, telling the court, "Today marked the end of a dark chapter of suffering and the start of a new life."

SYLVIA COLON, GINA DEJESUS' COUSIN: Today, we will close this chapter of our lives.

SAVIDGE: Colon also spoke to Castro's family, who has known the DeJesus family for decades, saying it is Ariel they blame.

COLON: To the Castro family, we are saddened that you are burdened with this horror and will unfortunately forever be tied to these atrocities. Please know that we do not hold you accountable.

SAVIDGE: Most of her statement was said to the judge, but she spoke her last words to Castro himself in his family's native language.

"May God have mercy on your soul."

Amanda Berry's sister fought back tears fighting back the suffering Castro had brought to her family for years.

BETH SERRANO, AMANDA BERRY'S SISTER: It is impossible to bring into words how much it hurts.

SAVIDGE: Castro himself was given the opportunity to speak, delivering a rumbling self-serving statement.

CASTRO: These people are trying to paint as a monster. And I'm not a monster. I'm sick. My sexual problems and it's so bad on my mind that I'm impulsive.

SAVIDGE: And at one jaw-dropping point, he said life in his prison home was actually a family.

CASTRO: I just hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, because we had a lot of harmony going on in that home.

SAVIDGE: Michelle Knight remained through it all. Then, as Castro was led away, walked out of the courtroom finally free to start the rest of her life.

(on camera): There was one other memorable moment, and it came when the judge thanked Michelle Knight for her -- what he said was remarkable composure during the statement by Ariel Castro. She piped up with her small voice and said, "You're welcome." It brought the only laughter that has ever been heard in this entire terrible case.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Cleveland.


BERMAN: The courage she showed was simply remarkable.

Sixteen minutes after the hour right now.

A judge says evidence from two dating Web sites can be used in the murder trial of James Holmes. The suspected gunman in the Aurora movie theater massacre had profile on and On both sides he allegedly wrote, "Will you visit me in prison?"

Holmes' attorneys tried to block the evidence. Prosecutors say it proves that Holmes knew what he was doing in the days leading up to the shooting, and they say it shows he was not insane.

ROMANS: Nothing like a little controversy to boost sales. "Rolling Stones'" controversial July issue, you know, the one featuring alleged Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, that's on the cover, right? Sold twice as many copies as usual. The magazine took a lot of heat for glamorizing the terror suspect, but sales skyrocketed even though chains like Walgreens and Stop and Shop refused to sell it in their stores.

BERMAN: The producers of "Glee" plan to deal with the death of actor Cory Monteith's head on. They confirmed that Monteith's character Finn Hudson will be written out of the show in the season's third episode, the story line will address his death from heroin and alcohol toxicity. The casts also plan to issue a series of public service announcements honoring Monteith's memory. ROMANS: This could be a decision day for Alex Rodriguez. Lawyers for the New York Yankees slugger has been trying to negotiate a deal with Major League Baseball for a lengthy suspension instead of a lifetime ban for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. A-Rod is scheduled to play in a minor league rehab game in Trenton, New Jersey, tonight and tomorrow.

BERMAN: See him while you can. It maybe long time before he plays big league baseball.

Serious injuries on the rise in the NFL. A new study shows injuries that kept players off the field for eight days or more increased a stunning 37 percent between 2009 and 2012. The study also shows players with concussions missed an average of 16 days last season. In 2005, the average time missed for a concussion was just four days.

ROMANS: All right. A California woman says she cannot believe she's alive after a terrifying encounter with a shark. Evonne Cashman swimming 30 feet from shore at a beach in Wailea, Hawaii, Wednesday morning. Huge shark suddenly slammed right into her.

Listen to her describe it.


EVONNE CASHMAN, BITTEN BY SHARJK: I didn't see it coming, and I didn't see it going. The doctor in the ER said he thinks according to the bites and where they are and what it looked like, it was probably about a 25-foot shark. That was his guess.


BERMAN: Twenty-five-foot shark?

ROMANS: That was a 15-inch wound from the middle of her spine to her neck. She also suffered bites to her hand and chin. The beach where the attack happened has since been closed.

BERMAN: That is horrifying. She is lucky.

ROMANS: Stories like that, I'm really afraid of sharks.

BERMAN: I'm already afraid of sharks. I didn't even need stories like that.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, breaking records on Wall Street. From sharks to bulls. Is the economy really booming? What the stock market's blockbuster day really means for your money.


BERMAN: There it is. The calm that is the storm that is Friday morning here in New York City.

ROMANS: The air just smells like jobs day, doesn't it?

BERMAN: It does. It's a pungent smell.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time".

New highs on Wall Street. Futures are pointing higher today. The S&P 500 closed above 1,700 for the first time ever yesterday. The Dow also reached a record high. The NASDAQ hit its highest level in 13 years.

Stocks are up 20 percent this year. That is a huge run for one year. It's great news for your investments and your 401k.

We're going to get a jobs report later. A good jobs report. We're probably going to need to keep the momentum going here. Those numbers are due out at 8:30.

CNN Money predicts 180,000 jobs added in July, and that would be slightly less than the average this year of $200,000 on average a month. They're also predicting a slight decrease in the unemployment rate to 7.5 percent.

So, an awful lot of information about your money for this morning.

Fewer people are getting laid off these days. First time jobless claims fell to a five-year low yesterday. One of the reasons why the market was powered higher is a good sign for the labor market ahead of today's report.

And more people are landing jobs. But, you know, it's really important to study this issue right now of quantity over quality. The number of people working part-time jobs has surged this year, and more than four times as many people have gotten part-time jobs compared to full-time work. That means no benefits, no job stability. That still shows cracks in the economy labor market.

Employers saying they're trying to keep their payroll lean because of economic uncertainly and a lack of demand.

Now, Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market. But Google hoping to change that -- Google unveiled the Moto X yesterday. This is the first smartphone, it has fully designed since it bought Motorola last year. It will be assembled in the U.S. not made, but assembled in the U.S. It's going to sell for 200 bucks.

I asked Google's Eric Schmidt and Motorola's Dennis Woodside what makes this phone better.


DENNIS WOODSID, CEO, MOTOROLA MOBILITY: Google invented the self- driving car. We think of this as the self-driving phone. It actually responds to you when you speak to it. You don't have to touch the phone to get it to do things.


ROMANS: That phone goes on sale at the end of August. And more millennials are living in their parent's basements. Surprise. According to a brand new Pew study, 36 percent of young adults, 36 percent of them, age 18 to 31, live at home with mom and dad. That's the highest number in decades.

The good news about one-third of those millenials are furthering their education. The study counts students who live in dorms in that 36 percent apparently.

BERMAN: Hope you like your kids because they're sticking around for a long, long time.

ROMANS: I reported last week that showed that 48 percent of kids in families that make more than $100,000 are living at home during college. They can't afford the dorms or they're smart and trying to keep the costs down for college. That's $100,000 in income, 48 percent of the kids living at home.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-six minutes after the hour right now.

Coming up, trapped in a Russian airport for more than a month, now, the man who exposed the U.S. government's secret surveillance program, he finally has a home. So where is Edward Snowden going, and what's the Obama administration saying about it?

CNN's Matthew Chance is live with all the answers. That's coming up right after the break.


ROMANS: A terror threat shutting down American embassies around the world. Why the U.S. believes workers there are in danger.

BERMAN: Diplomatic disaster. Tensions heighten as the man who exposed the government's secret spy program finds asylum in Russia.

ROMANS: Tornado touchdowns. Storms battering the Southeast. We're going to show you the damage left behind.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour on this Friday morning.

BERMAN: Happy Friday.

American embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world will be closed on Sunday. State Department officials say the move was prompted what they're calling a serious, incredible threat --