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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Shooting at Town Meeting; A-Rod Suspended Through 2014 Season; Americans Ordered to Leave Yemen; Obama on the Road; In Search of a Political Solution; More Old Cars on the Road

Aired August 6, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. Three people killed, four more hurt when a gunman opens fire on a Pennsylvania town meeting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Terror threat. New information about the al Qaeda plot that shut down more than a dozen U.S. embassies and consulates. Exactly who is behind it and how it was uncovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, YANKEES STAR: The last seven months has been a nightmare, has been probably the worst time of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: A nightmare for A-Rod. The Yankee's slugger suspended from hundreds of games. But he's not going down without a fight.

BERMAN: You know, a nightmare for fans of a clean game, too.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding, yes.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone.

SAMBOLIN: I'm glad you said that.

BERMAN: Thank you. I'm John Berman. She's happy - -

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's Tuesday, August 6th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: We're going to begin with breaking news this morning.

Shock in a small Pennsylvania town after gunfire interrupted what was supposed to be a routine, government meeting. At least three people are now dead, four others are hurt after police say a man opened fire at a municipal building in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. That's not far from Allentown.

Witnesses say the man blasted shots through a wall and then barged into a meeting room. He was firing the whole time. The rampage only ended when he went back to his car. He tried to return. That is when two people tackled him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. ROBERT BARTEL, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: They absolutely would have saved lives. He was entering the building with a handgun and certainly his intent had been shown he wanted to harm the people and certainly, if they would not have done that, he would have killed or injured other people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Police say the suspect Rockne Newell was shot and is now being treated. He apparently had an ongoing dispute with the townspeople for building on his property. There was a long history there apparently. He had been ordered to vacate the land.

SAMBOLIN: And now to something that was expected and unprecedented. Major League Baseball suspending Alex Rodriguez through next season. That's 211 games with his connection to a Florida clinic accused of dealing and performance enhancing drugs.

A dozen other players also punished. They took their medicine, which was 50 games. But not A-Rod, he is appealing and he's playing.

CNN's Jason Carroll was in Chicago as the Yankee third baseman made his season debut.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sounds of boos and jeers echoing throughout U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Monday night, as Alex Rodriguez debuted for the Yankees just hours after Major League Baseball announced it was suspending him for allegedly using performance enhancing drugs.

The embattled third baseman talked about what it has been like living under a cloud of suspicion.

RODRIGUEZ: The last seven months has been a nightmare. It's been probably the worst time of my life.

CARROLL: Rodriguez was one of 13 players suspended Monday. The other 12 players receiving 50-game suspensions for using performance enhancing drugs. The PEDs allegedly provided by the now defunct anti- aging clinic in Florida, Biogenesis.

Rodriguez's punishment is far worse. The top paid player suspension effective Thursday is through the 2014 season, 211 games without pay, which could cost him $31 million.

Major League Baseball's commissioner saying in a statement, "The suspension is based on his role of numerous performance enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years."

MLB officials saying he attempted to cover up his violations and obstruct their investigation. Rodriguez says he'll appeal. And in the past, Rodriguez denied a connection to the former head of biogenesis and taking PEDs from the clinic. When asked more than once to clarify, Rodriguez dodged those questions.

RODRIGUEZ: We'll have a forum to discuss all of that and we'll talk about it then.

CARROLL: Some fans did show their support for Rodriguez. Most felt this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he did cheat. He needs to be punished in some way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kind of like, OK, you have been doing steroids and you still can't even hit, so why are you on the team? But, I don't know, part of me still likes him and part of me just kind of hates him at the same time.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: He did have one hit. He had one hit last night. The Yankees lost.

You saw what you are going to see for weeks and weeks and weeks, including here in New York, which people booed him and chanted him loudly every time he's at bat.

SAMBOLIN: You know what made me sad was to see all of those kids start congregated there and they're waiting, you know, to get a glimpse of him or to get him to sign something. You know, he's not a good role model, right? Cheating is not the way to do it.

BERMAN: He had been very active in the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which fights performance-enhancing drug use among kids. That foundation split from him yesterday amid word of all this news.

SAMBOLIN: Bow out gracefully (ph), I think.

BERMAN: We have breaking news over the threat to Americans overseas. The State Department now ordering all U.S. citizens out of Yemen because of terrorist activities there and growing uncivil rest. The embassy in Sana'a is being evacuated except for essential personnel. Again, this is an uptick in the level of preparedness and tension there.

Meanwhile, we're also finding out more this morning about what was behind a terrorist threat so specific, so immediate that officials in this country decided to shut down nearly two dozen embassies and consulates across the Arab world, beyond just Yemen.

Here is Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cascade of warnings of American embassy closures was triggered by an intercepted communication, which is now being revealed as a direct order from al Qaeda's leader. CNN has learned Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered his new deputy in Yemen to basically do something and launch an attack, that deputy Nasser al-Wuhayshi, high on the U.S. target list, along with another Yemeni, al Qaeda's master bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The threat emanates from and may be focused on occurring in the Arabian Peninsula, rather, but it could potentially be beyond that.

LAWRENCE: The message directly linked to central al Qaeda group that carried out attacks on 9/11, with AQAP, its affiliate in Yemen. Analysts say, unlike 2001, senior leaders give broad instructions, not step by step orders on carrying out a specific attack.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You have a separate chain, to some extent, of experienced technical people and leaders who actually carry out attacks, make bombs and put the equipment together.

LAWRENCE: On Monday, senior administration officials met to talk about a resurgent al Qaeda. U.S. military and intel assets were being redeployed around the world in light of the new threat. Special Operations teams have been placed on high alert overseas. Drone surveillance has been stepped up and analysts are collecting more satellite images trying to pinpoint a target.

MARIE NARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We are going to keep evaluating information as it comes in.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Local security teams have closed access roads and even installed extra blast walls outside some American diplomatic posts overseas. In a newly formed quick reaction force of 500 Marines is now on stand by and can deploy within hours from Spain.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Chris.

And getting under way today in Texas, a court-martial for an army psychiatrist accused of a deadly rampage at Ft. Hood. It's been nearly four years since prosecutors say Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a processing center, leaving 13 people dead, 30 others were injured. Some of those that he alleged to have shot will actually testify against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPC. MICK ENGNEHL (RET.), WOUNDED IN FT. HOOD SHOOTING: All of a sudden, you could hear it somewhere and pow, pow, shooting everywhere. All of a sudden, I saw a laser come across my eyes. I looked over and saw him pointing a gun at me. By that time, I tried shifting over. I felt like a baseball bat hit me inside my neck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Hasan is representing himself in the case and will get to cross-examine the witnesses. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

BERMAN: President Obama heads to Phoenix today to talk about home ownership. It's called Better Bargain for the Middle Class Tour.

The president is expected to lay out his plan to keep the housing recovery humming. Then he heads to Burbank, California, to make his sixth appearance on the tonight show with Jay Leno.

And fire crews in Oregon making slow but steady progress against a series of wildfires that actually continue to grow now. Weather conditions on the Northeast do not promise any help. Right now, five major fires are burning in two Oregon counties, 52,000 acres have been destroyed. The largest of the fires is just 16 percent contained.

BERMAN: Indra Petersons is tracking the weather for us.

Indra, how does the West look in terms of any relief for these fires?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's kind of like mixed bag. There's relief on the way. There are storms headed their way. But it takes time. It's been so dry out there that this low that should bring the relief first is going to potentially bring more lightning, which could also start more wildfires.

It's so dry out there. The rainfall moistens up the atmosphere before rain eventually hits the ground. So, they have the days today, potential lightning strikes and wind. But eventually, by the second half of the week, they will get that relief they need in the form of rain. So, it's kind of mixed up bag until they get there.

Keeping in trend with above normal on the West Coast. This is the outlook for August, and cool on the East Coast. Take a look at what is expected in Texas today. We are talking heat indices anywhere from 100 to 108, temperatures a good five to 10 degrees above normal. They really cannot get the relief they need, Corpus Christi about a 100, "Austin, 104, and San Antonio, 105 today.

What I want to point out, we now have flash flood emergencies in south Missouri. We are looking at maybe rainfall rates from one to two inches per hour the last few hours. We are hearing reports of rescues, people on their roofs with flooding water in their homes. So, that's something we're going to be monitoring here.

Unfortunately, more rain expected as we go throughout the day and really throughout the week.

So, once again, there's so much going on weather-wise. We have flooding. We have heat out there today.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of heat. It's really hot. PETERSONS: Yes, unbelievable, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Indra.

BERMAN: All right, Indra.

So, are you happy to be back?

SAMBOLIN: I'm delighted to be back.

BERMAN: Back one day and she complains about the music in my office. She says the music too loud.

SAMBOLIN: If you heard it. You just have to get better taste in music, and then I'm good with it.

BERMAN: Coming up, crisis in Egypt. Two U.S. senators arriving, trying to keep that country from collapse. We are live.

SAMBOLIN: A tall order.

And a driver accused of plowing into a crowd of pedestrians making his first court appearance as we hear from the husband of the woman that was killed in the crash. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fourteen minutes past the hour.

Two of this country's most powerful lawmakers are in Egypt this morning. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are there at President Obama's request. Their goal? Helping to break the political impasse that has left that nation in crisis. Could this trip really make a difference?

Reza Sayah is live in Cairo this morning.

So, Reza, what do the senators have planned?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have plans to meet with both sides, but this is a difficult mission for them. The question is, can they do what many have tried in Egypt and failed? Can they get these two sides to stop fighting, to sit down and hammer out some sort of political solution?

That's their mission. They were sent by President Obama. They arrived last night. During their stay here, they're going to meet with both camps in this conflict.

On one side, you have the military backed government, on the other side. You have the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the ousted Islamic President Mohamed Morsy. Morsy, of course, overthrown on July 3rd by the army and came this interim government bolstered by the army. They want nothing more than to push forward with a transition into a democratically elected government, but standing in their way, the Muslim Brotherhood. Supporters of the ousted of the president who've been rallying and demonstrating for more than a month. They say they will not stop protesting until Morsy is reinstated, again. This conflict sparked clashes that have left more than 200 people being killed. Washington simply cannot afford more chaos in this critical ally for Washington. Of course, this is a recipient of $1.5 billion in U.S. aid every year, Zoraida. So, Senators Graham and McCain here to see what they can do to resolve this conflict.

SAMBOLIN: We were just taking a look at the massive crowds there. As you mentioned, there have been protests, violence, a lot of unrest. What does the public actually think of this particular trip?

SAYAH: Well, I think a lot of people want the conflict to end. It's such a dilemma, because the question is, what can this military-backed interim government give to the Muslim Brotherhood to satisfy them? The Muslim Brotherhood says anything less than the former president being reinstated is not enough. The interim government says that's a nonstarter.

And consider the dilemma for the U.S. They are facing animosity from both sides. They don't want to be seen as supporting a military coup. At the same time, they want to be seen a democratic transition. It's a very difficult and complicated conflict.

And again, the two senators here to see what they can do to help.

SAMBOLIN: Very tricky indeed and they have a tall order. Reza Sayah, live in Cairo for us this morning -- thank you.

BERMAN: Seventeen minutes after the hour.

A driver accused of mulling down a crowd of people on a California board walk is due in court today. Nathan Campbell facing murder charges after police say he sped down the board walk on Venice Beach Saturday night. A dozen people were hit.

One of them, a woman visiting from Italy, she was killed. Alice Gruppioni was just 32. She was only married two weeks ago. She was on her honeymoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN CASADEI, HUSBAND OF ALICE GRUPPIONI: There isn't a word that explained what happened and what I feel. So, I want to come back with her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Awful.

The suspect reportedly had a history of run-ins with the law. Police say it appears he was bent on doing evil.

SAMBOLIN: Breaks your heart.

Seventeen minutes past the hour.

A jury in Boston today begins deliberating the fate of reputed mob boss, James "Whitey" Bulger, on trial for murder and racketeering. In closing arguments, prosecutors called Bulger, one of the most vicious, violent and calculating criminals to ever walk the streets of Boston. While the defense wrapped up its case by questioning the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses. If convicted, Bulger could spend the rest of his life in prison.

BERMAN: A huge reward now as the search continues for this giant trove of jewels stolen from a hotel in Cannes, France. Lloyds Insurance is offering $1.3 million to the first person who gives information that could lead to the recovery of more than $130 million worth of jewels. We are talking rings, pendants, earrings. They were on display at a luxury hotel and they were just stolen in that brazen daylight heist.

SAMBOLIN: Now, to what has to be the most expensive and ingenious sandwich treat in the history of the universe. This is the world's first test tube burger. It's grown in a laboratory from cattle stem cells.

It wasn't all beef. They had to add in bread crumbs and egg powder. I don't know if I would eat this. And some red beet juice and saffron give it that lovely color that it has. Here's the important question. What does it taste like? Those who took a bite said it was a little short on flavor.

And don't expect this burger on the dollar menu anytime soon. It cost about $330,000 to make this test patty.

BERMAN: You have that one burger or $330,000 burgers on McDonald's dollar menu. You make the call for us.

SAMBOLIN: Would you be part of the --

BERMAN: I would go for the $330,000 burgers.

SAMBOLIN: Would you be part of the taste test?

BERMAN: Sure. I have four eyes in three days, but, hey, it would be worth it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, coming up, trading in for a new model? You may be in the minority. Why more Americans are keeping their cars longer than before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

Hear that sound? That means it's money time. Alison Kosik is here.

Good morning, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I've got my own music. Lucky me.

You know, it was quiet day for the markets yesterday and so much for those record highs. We were on watch for it, but it didn't happen. The Dow and S&P 500 dropped ever so slightly. But not to worry, the decline wasn't because of any major news out there.

It's more like, you know, what goes up, must come down. Remember, though, the major averages are still up 19 percent to 22 percent each. Stock futures are looking flat this morning.

I got to mention this, though. It was quiet yesterday. Facebook made a headline of its own. They closed above its IPO price for the first time since it made its public debut, closing above $39 a share. It debuted at $38.

The stocks are moving higher after its earnings report showed Facebook is selling more mobile ads these days.

There are a lot of old cars on the road these days. Junkers I'm talking about these days. The average age of cars in the eyes is at 11.4 years. It's a record high. More people are hanging on to their cars because of the sluggish economy and because cars are engineered to last longer these days. It's good for more than just auto body shops.

New car dealers, they're also benefiting because the trend is creating pent up demand and that's leading to a surge in new car sales.

Get this -- you can get a loan for a house, for an education and now, day care, too. That is if you live in New York City.

Yes, this is kind of interesting. Middle class families with kids between the ages of 2 and 4 are going to be able to get up to $11,000 in loans. Government officials say this is a pilot program. It's the first of its kind here in the U.S.

Listen to what daycare costs in Manhattan are. They can run as much as $2,300 a month. Incredible.

SAMBOLIN: It's insane.

KOSIK: Yes, the city already subsidizes child care for families in poverty.

And no business block would be complete without mentioning Alex Rodriguez. He's got $31 million reasons to fight the suspension that was handed down yesterday for alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, $31 million is the salary he's due for next year and early 2015. It's a salary at risk.

The New York Yankee star doesn't have to hand over the money, as long as he appeals. But if it eventually goes through, he will have to forfeit the cash. But, no, no, don't shed a tear for A-Rod because his contract, it runs through 2017 and it says he's going to be paid for 2016 and 2017 which adds up to $50 million.

And don't forget this -- Rodriguez is the ninth best paid U.S. athlete. So, it really is hard to feel bad for him.

BERMAN: He had two of the biggest contracts of sports history, worth over half a billion dollars.

KOSIK: Amazing.

BERMAN: He's going to do fine.

SAMBOLIN: He just needs to call it a day, don't you think? Why won't he?

BERMAN: Why won't he?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

KOSIK: Ego.

BERMAN: If you could get in the mind of Alex Rodriguez.

KOSIK: Ego. Sorry.

BERMAN: Coming up, a deadly attack in a town meeting, three people killed, four others injured when a gunman opens fire. Poppy Harlow joins us live with how the gunman was stopped. That's right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)