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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Idaho Fire; Trial Date Set for Pistorius Case; Diana Death Conspiracy

Aired August 19, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The southeast flood and rains. Soaking the area, leaving people and cars stranded. But the worst may be would still yet to come. We're tracking the storm.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. An Olympic hero indicted for murder. The bladerunner accused of killing his model girlfriend. Did he kill her in cold blood or was it all a tragic mistake?

ROMANS: And Princess Diana murdered? The shocking new claim about the Princess of Wales' death. We're live in London as police investigate this allegation.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans in for John Berman this morning. It's Monday, August 19th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: And we're going to begin with rain and lots of it. Severe weather system, parts from the Gulf Coast to the southeastern United States. It's bringing more heavy rains to that region.

Indra Petersons is tracking it all for us.

It seems like you've been tracking this rain for weeks now. Maybe even months.

INDRA PETERSONS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I mean, absolutely. Part of me even still talking about the swath of which from the Gulf of Mexico all the into the southeast is so impressive to see. And I can't believe we're still talking about. They really can't handle anymore of this rain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS (voice-over): Heavy rain and high winds battered much of the southeast this weekend bringing flash floods and record rainfall. Check out what members of one church in Gulfport saw after the Sunday service. Waist-deep water covering their car doors. A foot of rain fell in less than an hour. And business owners along Highway 49 found water rushing into their stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If fire trucks are out there, it's got to be pretty bad. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't get that heavy during Katrina. Katrina didn't got this water.

PETERSONS: These stranded motorists in Biloxi, Mississippi, were caught off guard by the rising waters. The fire department rushed in to help dozens of stalled cars. A large of swath of tropical moisture has drenched much of the region from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas. In Miami Beach, an elderly couple was killed while swimming on Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were in cardiac arrest when fire rescue arrived. We worked them all the way to the hospital on Mt. Sinai where they had been pronounced dead.

PETERSONS: And they weren't alone. Miami Beach Ocean Rescue came to the aid of at least 50 swimmers caught in the rough surf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: All right. So here's that swath in which we are talking about. If you remember, we're looking all this tropical moisture in the Yucatan over the weekend, this has literally been cruising into the area all weekend long and still, currently, we're dealing with this. You can actually it's all the way from Friday.

So now let's talk about what is going on. Look at the amount of rainfall they have just seen. And this just since Friday, almost 10 inches in Panama City. Pensacola, looking about 6.61 inches and still seeing all that moisture flooding even into the Carolinas.

And the story is not over with yet. This is a surplus since just June. So this is how far are we for the rainy season. You can tell some places almost 15 inches above with more rain on the way. Of course, the flooding concern is going to be high as more rainfall is in the forecast. One to three inches, even five inches still plausible as we go through the next few days. We're going to be monitoring that.

What's going on? Well, we got a stationary front still in place. Stationary front meaning it's not going anywhere. They're still staying there, producing all that tropical moisture and more showers as we go through the next few days. We'll be monitoring even more rain.

Here is the forecast now as we go forward in time for the next two days. Additional one to three inches possible in the Florida area. Even stretching into the Carolinas, still more rain. You can already see those streets are flooded. Not good news anywhere into the southeast. On the flipside, though, in the northeast, beautiful but temperatures, they are going to be rising. We'll actually looking for some upper 80s in the next several days.

The complete opposite. I feel really guilty saying how nice --

SAMBOLIN: I know. I'm kind of feeling guilty, too.

PETERSONS: Yes. SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Indra.

PETERSONS: Sure.

ROMANS: All right. Turning now to the west, dozens of major wildfires burning this morning. And Idaho seems to be getting the worst of it. Right now the Beaver Creek Fire east of Boise has burned more than 100,000 acres and has forced thousands from their homes. This is only 8 percent contained at this hour.

Here's our Paul Vercammen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Sun Valley, Idaho. The race to save this playground for the rich and famous took to the skies. At least 11 helicopters in 15 fixed-wing aircraft are available to continue the battle Monday against the massive Beaver Creek Fire.

On the ground, more than 1200 firefighters, 100 of them from five Elite Hot Shot crews along with almost 90 inches. The Beaver Creek blaze forced evacuation of more than 2,000 properties. Sun Valley is home to many pricey spreads, including second homes reportedly owned by Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis.

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, who calls Ketchum his family's hometown, tweeted, "Thank you firefighters and be safe. Houses aren't worth lives." Firefighters have been described as battling their hearts out around the clock to contain the blaze.

GOV. C. L. BUTCH OTTER (R), IDAHO: They looked the worst to wear but when you see that smile come across their face and then their attitude about how they are being treated and how they are being supported by our local folks, the county folks, city folks, the State Department of Land.

VERCAMMEN: The Sun Valley ski resort got creative converting snow blowers to giant water guns, just in case.

JACK SIBBACH, SPOKESMAN, SUN VALLEY RESORT: We have the largest snow making system in the world, computerized snow making system in the world and we can turn it on in the summertime to put some humidity in the air and wet some of the areas in bald mountain just in case of spot fires.

VERCAMMEN: The fires in Idaho have consumed more than 400,000 acres and late Sunday, the U.S. Forest Service said it's cost more than $13.5 million to battle just the Beaver Creek and Elk Fires.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Prosecutors in the court-martial of Ft. Hood massacre suspect, Nidal Hasan, looking to get some answers from that judge today. They are ready go as soon as they hear what evidence the judge will allow them to present.

The prosecution is hoping to introduce the case of U.S. Army Soldier Hassan Akbar, a Muslim who was sentenced to death for attacking fellow American soldiers in 2003. They want to argue Hasan was a copy cat of Akbar.

ROMANS: Meantime, closing arguments set for this morning in the sentencing phase of Army Private Bradley Manning's trial at Fort Mead, Maryland. The 25-year-old Manning facing a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison after his conviction for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Last week, Manning apologized for his actions and for hurting the United States. A military judge could announce her decision as early as today.

SAMBOLIN: And the sentencing phase gets underway today for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales who has admitted to slipping away from an outpost in Southern Afghanistan last year and gunning down 16 civilians. Bales pled guilty to more than 30 criminal charges in order to avoid the death penalty. And he now faces a life sentence. But a jury will decide if he should ever be offered parole. His defense says Bales should not have been stationed in Afghanistan because of a history of PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.

ROMANS: All right. In Egypt this morning, there are fears of more violence in the battle between the military and supporters of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, shows no signs of slowing. In the latest incident the Egyptian state TV says 24 soldiers were killed in an attack on the Sinai Peninsula. Over the weekend, at least 36 people in government custody were killed.

The military says they were trying to break out protesters, called the death an assassination. The death toll in the days of unrest now stands at nearly 900. The U.S. is said to be considering whether to continue giving aid to the country. Something Senator John McCain tells "STATE OF THE UNION" should not be a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), MCCAIN: And when we threaten something as we did that we would cut off aid, the administration did, and then not do it, then you lose your credibility and your influence.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S STATE OF THE UNION: And what is your sort of description of U.S. policy?

MCCAIN: There is no policy. And there is no strategy. And therefore, we react and we react poorly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: McCain says the U.S. has lost all credibility when it comes to the situation in Egypt.

SAMBOLIN: Meantime, in Syria, a team of U.N. weapons inspectors are now on the ground to look into allegations chemical weapons were used during the ongoing civil war. Both the rebels and the government has claimed the other side has used chemical weapons against them. So far, more than 100,000 people have died in that conflict which has been going on for more than two years.

ROMANS: Breaking news from South Africa where one of the world's most recognizable athletes, Olympic tracks Oscar Pistorius has gone before a judge to be formally indicted in the murder of his girlfriend. Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead last Valentine's Day at his home. He claims he thought she was an intruder. But prosecutors say it was something more sinister.

Robyn Curnow live now for us in Pretoria this morning.

Good morning, Robyn.

We are live this morning. Good morning.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Well, Oscar Pistorius appeared in this magistrate court behind me just a short while ago. It was a very brief appearance. What was key about this was the fact that the state has officially now charged him with premeditated murder. And that implications of that means that there will be even more severe sentencing at the end of this process. It carries a minimum of a life sentence, 25 years in South Africa.

There's an additional charge of contravening the firearms act. What is also important is that in this affidavit of this indictment, they stress that even though Oscar Pistorius and his legal team will most likely argue that he thought this was a tragic mistake, that she was just an intruder, they say that doesn't matter.

He's still intended to kill a human being when he shot those bullets through the bathroom door. And that doesn't matter whether it was Reeva or whether it was an intruder. And that's why the state is arguing that this premeditated charge still exists.

So I think tough times ahead for Pistorius. The case against him, according to the state, they believe is strong. Also what came out in court today is that the trial will start on the third of March. And it's likely, I must say, to go on for awhile. Perhaps even more than a year. There'll be a number of postponements because what you're seeing in this indictment is a very long list of witnesses, 107 names are on this indictment.

So it could take a few years before Reeva Steenkamp's family believed justice is served.

ROMANS: And today in what would have been Reeva Steenkamp's 30th birthday. Robyn Curnow in South Africa for us. Thank you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: In the Japan, the entire city of Kagoshima, population 600,000 is coated with ash this morning thanks to the Sakurajima volcano erupting in south western Japan. Local newscasters say it's like driving in a blinding snowstorm. Trains had to be taken off their lines so the tracks could be cleared of all the ash. Experts say there was no sign of a larger scale eruption. But this kind of activity could continue.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, dead for nearly 16 years. But now a new claim That Princess Diana was murdered. Erin McLaughlin live in London for us with who is accused of the crime and what police are doing about it. That's right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Fourteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

There is an intriguing new allegation about just what caused the death of Princess Diana almost 16 years ago. Could it possibly have been the work of British Special Forces?

Erin McLaughlin is live in London with more. So it's been 16 years, millions of dollars. Are they opening a brand-new investigation here?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at the moment, Zoraida. Police here at Scotland Yard saying they are currently assessing this information for its credibility and its relevance. But they are not saying what that information is. However, there are reports in the British media which includes a newspaper called the "Sunday People" that says that this new information includes the allegation that the British military was somehow involved in the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed all the way back in 1997.

The "Sunday" people reporting that they had access to a seven-page handwritten letter from the estranged in-laws of a former Special Forces sniper. In that letter, they say that this particular sniper who remains unnamed boasted to his wife at one point that the that the SAS, which is a specialist commando unit here in the UK was involved or behind Princess Diana's death.

So lots of questions here in the UK as to why these allegations are coming up now as you say, 16 years after her death -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It's shocking. Can't wait to hear more. Erin McLaughlin, live for us. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: A nine-hour detention for the partner of a journalist with close links to NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. Authorities used anti- terror powers to question David Miranda at London's Heathrow Airport before releasing him, no charges were filed but Miranda's laptop, cell phone, video game consuls and the USB memory sticks were confiscated.

Miranda was reportedly on his way from Berlin back to Brazil where her lives with reporter Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald, of course, has written extensively about Edward Snowden and it's believed Snowden has given him thousands of documents about the NSA's domestic surveillance operations.

SAMBOLIN: Sixty years to the day after it happened, the CIA is admitting it was behind the coup that overthrew the Iranian prime minister in 1953. A coup that set in motion the eventual violent overthrow of the shah and many decades of ill will toward the United States.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University obtained the CIA report which states, in part, that the coup was carried out to isolate the country from a possible Soviet threat. Many of those involved have admitted they were working for the CIA. But this is the first time the agency itself has owned up to its role.

ROMANS: The annual joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea now under way amid stepped up moves by North Korea to negotiate an end to some of the attentions with its southern neighbors. The drills involve some 30,000 troops taking part in simulated war games called Defensive in Nature. So far no comment from the north which has in part called these exercises the preparations for invasion.

SAMBOLIN: A scary fall for a man at a golf course in one of California's most picturesque places. Authorities say the 25-year-old tumbled more than 100 feet off a cliff at the half-moon bay golf course south of San Francisco. It is not clear what he was doing along the edge of that cliff.

There are signs that do warn players to stay away from the edge there. He has said to have suffered major injuries.

ROMANS: All right. A teenager is facing arson and attempted murder charges after a fire destroyed at least four units at a condominium complex in Lakewood, Colorado. Investigators say that 19-year-old (INAUDIBLE) got into a fight with his father on Friday night. They believe Berg then set a fire in his father's apartment as retaliation.

SAMBOLIN: And now to complaints of too much security at a weekend movie showing in the Washington, D.C. area. Tiffany Flowers and Alan Hanson went to see "The Butler," this was Saturday night at a Regal Cinema Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. And day they were met by intense, stepped up security with tickets double checked and armed guards in the auditorium as they tried to watch the movie. And they claimed it was all because the film drew a primarily African-American audience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN HANSON, MOVIEGOER: They had what I thought were bullet proof vests, they had sidearms, a badge that was sewn into their -- into their shirt. They look serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Child of the world, I've been to a lot of movie theaters and this is the first time I've ever seen anything like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So Regal Entertainment said they routinely hire additional security and theater management did not receive any complaints about having officers on duty that night.

ROMANS: Have you seen it yourself?

SAMBOLIN: No, I haven't. Have you?

ROMANS: I haven't seen it but it did very well in the box office.

SAMBOLIN: No, no, I'm dying to see that. Just going to wait a minute here.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I know. I know. And think Oprah Winfrey sort of (INAUDIBLE) and have been very successful, too.

SAMBOLIN: Totally.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, qualified for the job or just well connected? JPMorgan investigated for its hiring practices, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-three minutes past the hour. Lindsay Lohan is addressing some of the rumors about her speaking to Oprah Winfrey about what is next for her now that she's out of rehab. We're going to bring part of that interview in our next half hour.

ROMANS: Should be interesting.

SAMBOLIN: She looks healthy, which is good for her, right?

ROMANS: She does. Yes. It's -- she does. Yes, she's changing. She's not the little girl that we all remember her for --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: No, no. No. Fully grown. Fully responsible now, right? Supposedly.

ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. It's money time, guys, and this was the worst week for -- of the year the Dow Industrials last week. Futures are mixed this morning. So maybe we'll get a pause from all that telling. But this is what it looked like for the week. The Dow fell 2 percent, 344 points, the S&P fell 2 percent for the week. The second worst weekly performance so far this year. The S&P has been down three the past four weeks. Still I would like to put this in perspective for you. It has been an amazing year. Major indexes also up, 15 to 19 percent for the year. So really not a big surprise that you're going to see a pullback.

Stocks just don't look trade up. The question is, do you buy here or is this beginning maybe a deeper swoon? We're showing you these retailers here because you're going to hear from them. A lot of attention on retailers after signs that paycheck to paycheck and middle class shoppers are strapped.

These were all the earnings we have this week. You know Best Buy among others here that we'll be reporting throughout the week. Now like politics, all real estate is local and the housing market recovery has clear leaders and laggers. RealtyTrac considered several factors like distressed sales and increases in home prices. And RealtyTrac found that among the areas leading the recovery, Rochester, New York, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, and San Jose, California. Those are the leaders right there on that list.

Among the lagging areas, Baltimore, Maryland, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Rockford, Illinois, Hagerstown, Maryland, also on that list.

I'm going to tweet out the entire list of leaders and laggers in real estate for us, see if you can take a look for yourself and see if your hometown is on there.

Another legal headache for JPMorgan and CEO Jamie Dimond. Reports say that federal authorities have opened a bribery investigation into whether the bank's Hong Kong office hired the children of powerful state-owned companies in China to win contracts.

The "New York Times" revealed documents that found that the son of a former Chinese banking regulator and the daughter of a Chinese railway official have been hired. While JPMorgan has not been accused of wrongdoing hiring people in order to win business from relatives can be bribery.

And the FCC is investigating the actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Many businesses who do business in China say that sometimes that's the way it goes. Kind of a Wild West way of doing business in that country.

All right. This is a record for a road car at auction. This 1967 Ferrari convertible --

SAMBOLIN: Take a look at that. It's beautiful.

ROMANS: Yes. You got $27.5 million? Because that's --

(LAUGHTER)

Because that's what it sold for at auction.

SAMBOLIN: I'll admire it from afar.

ROMANS: Monterey, California (INAUDIBLE) the highest ever paid for a Ferrari.

SAMBOLIN: And who bought it?

ROMANS: $27.5 million. I do not know who bought it. But that 1957 convertible is very -- a rich person bought that. And --

SAMBOLIN: Very, very rich.

ROMANS: Love that. No question.

SAMBOLIN: I would be scared to take that out on the open road, though.

ROMANS: I know but --

SAMBOLIN: But they have a really long driveway there? Maybe they could just take it up and down the driveway.

(LAUGHTER)

All right, thank you very much. 26 minutes past the hour. Coming up, it is chaos in Egypt still overnight. Dozens killed as the country's military goes to war with protesters. And there are more demonstrations that are scheduled for today.

Our Reza Sayah is live in Cairo where the death toll is continuing to rise. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)