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Syria Using Chemical Weapons?; NCAA Denies Player's Hardship Waiver

Aired August 22, 2013 - 05:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hand to my back to my buttocks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another woman accusing San Diego's mayor of sexual harassment. This makes 18, if you're counting. But will Bob Filner step down from office?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And wildfire raging near a popular California landmark. Thousands evacuated from their homes, and we are tracking the fast moving flames.


ROMANS (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for John Berman this week.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And I'm Pamela Brown in for Zoraida. It is 5:30 eastern time on this Thursday morning.

ROMANS: Let's start with this very disturbing and developing story. Global concern over new allegations that Syria is using chemical weapons against its own people. The Assad government now claims -- says claims by Syrian activists are absolutely faceless. The opposition accuses the regime them of using poison gas in an attack in the Damascus suburb that killed and wounded hundreds of men, women and children.

The Obama administration and the U.N. want weapons inspectors already in Syria to investigate these claims. Arwa Damon monitoring developments from Beirut, Lebanon. Bring us up speed, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to have to see if that team that is already in country is going to, first of all, be allowed by the Syrian government. They are guests of the government to access the sight, and then, if the security situation is going to allow them to reach the site as well. Presumably, some sort of a ceasefire will have to be brokered between the government and rebel fighting forces.

The area where this alleged chemical attack took place is under rebel control. Time, though, is of the essence. A lot of chemical weapons experts saying that it's not necessarily soil samples that people would be looking for, the investigators would be looking for, but more samples from people had been exposed to whatever toxic substance it was what have in their hair. But it's going to be very difficult to see how this moves forward given how in the past reluctant the Syrian government has been to allow unfettered access to various sites during this conflict.

ROMANS: Arwa, we're looking at still photos. We've seen the video that you had to comb through because some of it is, frankly, so disturbing. So disturbing. Even what we've been showing you is just heartbreaking. What has been the reaction from world leaders as these images, the sound, this video has spread?

DAMON: Those pictures are really atrocious when you see especially the children with no visible wounds on their body, and then, they're lying. They're listless. Doctors trying to revive them, in some cases, choking. Look, condemnation, we've heard very harsh rhetoric coming from the French and the Germans.

We've heard the U.S. coming out and condemning what took place but wanting to see the results of an investigation on the other side of the spectrum. You have the Iranians and Russians who, of course, are supporting the Assad regime saying that they believe that if such an attack took place, it would not have been carried out by the Syrian government, but rather by the rebels themselves.

Bottom line is, there have been numerous red lines that have been crossed in Syria. You have a death toll of 100,000 and mounting. You have a refugee crisis at epic proportions. And this is all happening under the current global leaders watch. And it's about time that these global key players who can actually do something really step up and get together and figure out how to end the disaster that is unfolding in Syria.

ROMANS: A disaster that has been unfolding and continues to do so. Thank you so much, Arwa Damon for us this morning in Beirut. Thanks.

BROWN: And back here closer to home, the government accused of storming an elementary school near Atlanta took an assault rifle from an acquaintance and had nearly 500 rounds of ammunition on him. Those are some of the new details we're learning from police. No one was hurt. And 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill is on custody.

He was already on probation for threatening to kill his brother. The brother says he is bipolar and schizophrenic. And Hill told police he had stopped taking his medication. The school's bookkeeper talked him into surrendering as you'll hear in this 911 call.


VOICE OF ANTOINETTE TUFF, SCHOOL BOOKKEEPER: OK, but let me talk to them and let's see if we can work it out so that you don't have to go away with them for a long time. Don't feel bad, baby. My husband just left me after 33 years. Yes, you do. I mean, I'm sitting here with you and talking to you about it. Sit right there.

I'm going to buzz them in, OK, so you'll know when they're coming, OK? OK. So, just stay there calm. Don't worry about it. I will tell them you didn't try to harm me, OK? OK. It's going be all right, sweet. I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I'm proud of you. That's a good thing that you're just giving up and don't worry about it.


BROWN: Just gives you chills listening to that. That bookkeeper being hailed a hero. Meantime, formal charges could come today and the students will return to the school this morning.

ROMANS: What an amazing story.

All right. Anger and sadness over the death of an Australian student athlete, a baseball player who was senselessly murdered in Oklahoma. Christopher Lane was out jogging when police say he was shot to death by three teenagers for the fun of it. Lane's girlfriend, Sarah Harper (ph), venting on Facebook says she hopes the killers, quote, "rot in hell." Last night, she was more reserved talking about Chris on CNNs "AC 360."


SARAH HARPER, CHRISTOPHER LANE'S GIRLFRIEND: The mostly -- just the most amazing person I've ever met. He was the most genuine and kindhearted guy and would do anything for anybody at any time and just really made everyone feel special.


ROMANS: Three teenagers have been charged -- they have been charged as adults in this crime.

BROWN: The four ex-Vanderbilt football players accused of rape have pleaded not guilty. They did not appear in court and enter pleas with their attorneys. They're accused of raping an unconscious girl in a dorm room back in June. Vanderbilt star receiver is accused of trying to help his teammates cover-up the crime. He's pleaded not guilty and is suspended from the team. Two other men are accused of evidence tampering.

ROMANS: Hard to believe a mother could be capable of something this, but police in Utah say this woman, Abriel Winkler (ph), lied about her four-year-old daughter having cancer, collecting some $3,000 in donations from her community. They say she convinced everyone, even convinced the little girl herself.


KEITH CAMPBELL, VERNAL, UTAH POLICE DEPT.: We contacted the division of child and family services. They were able to provide us with medical records and such and nothing suggests that cancer was ever an issue.


ROMANS: Winkler is charged with communications fraud. Police say there's no evidence to support Winkler's claim that her 11-year-old daughter also had cancer.

BROWN: That is truly outrageous.

ROMANS: And odd.

BROWN: And odd.

A school bus full of sixth grade girls heading to a camp out overturns in Kansas, sending at least 20 people to the hospital. The bus apparently flipped as it was trying to round a sharp curve on a highway ramp. The girls from Pembroke Hills School in Missouri were said to be shaken up by the incident, but none of the injuries are life threatening.

ROMANS: It appears that three days of closed door settlement talks have produced a deal on the future of San Diego mayor, Bob Filner. Now, the city attorney says details of the confidential agreement will be presented to the San Diego City council tomorrow.

Eighteen, 18 women now have accused the 70-year-old Filner of sexual harassment, the latest, a San Diego businesswoman who says the mayor touched her inappropriately during a photo-op earlier this year.


DIANNE YORK, CLAIMS MAYOR FILNER SEXUALLY HARASSED HER: Unbeknownst to me, when we posed for the photo, there was a hand that went from my back to my buttocks. And I was shocked. It was inappropriate and I was startled at the time.


ROMANS: Just last weekend, volunteers in San Diego began collecting signatures in an effort to recall Mayor Filner from office.

BROWN: Well, former Massachusetts senator, Scott Brown, says he will not run for governor of the state. Brown revealing that decision on his Facebook page. The Republican lost his bid for re-election to the Senate last year. Brown has suggested that he's open to running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire where he owns a vacation home.

ROMANS: A German tourist attacked by a shark last week in Hawaii has now died from her Injuries. Twenty-year-old Jana Lutteropp lost her right arm to a shark while out on a snorkeling trip off the coast of Maui. After being rescued by two friends and a nearby kayaker, Lutteropp was taken in critical condition to Maui Medical Center where she was placed on life support.

BROWN: Well, this was certainly not your typical day at the beach for sunbathers in Russia. Check this out. Right here. That, right there, that's a Russian navy hovercroft powering toward shore on a beach packed with people. Can you imagine? The hovercroft was, apparently, taking part in a military exercise, and according to Russian's defense ministry, docking at the beach is a normal event.

(LAUGHTER) BROWN: Of course. Of course it is.


ROMANS: That would get some attention, if you're just sitting there reading your summer beach read.


ROMANS: All right. Coming up, a massive wildfire growing near Yosemite. Thousands evacuated from their homes. Is there any relief in sight for Mother Nature? We're going to ask Indra Petersons. She's tracking the forecast for us. She's going to give us that right after the break.


BROWN: And welcome back to EARLY START. Nice to have you here with us. A wildfire near Yosemite National Park in California continues to burn out of control. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. So far, it's consumed some 16,000 acres. Seven hundred firefighters are battling the blaze, which right now is only five percent contained.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons is tracking the severe weather for us. Any help for those firefighters out west? This has been quite a summer.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I mean, unbelievable. But it is a little bit of good news. I mean, they are getting more moisture, more rain, which sounds like a good thing and eventually it will be, but it could also mean that mixed bag of high winds and potential for more lightning which actually started some of these fires in the first place.

Currently, you can see the red flag warnings in the region for that reason. Of course, strong winds would be gusting anywhere 40 to 50 miles per hour, spreading flames that are already on the ground event this continues to get rain moving in the area. The upside of this, yes, more moisture, more rain expected each day here with the storms being a little bit closer.

And also, the long distance outlook here. We're going to be talking about more moisture moving into the area once we get about the middle of next week. The reason for that is actually system south that kind of west of Mexico. Eighty percent chance of development, 90 percent of development over the next five days.

And notice, this will actually be ruining those plans up along Baja as we see some tropical moisture making its way up the area, but it also means some flooding potential into the southwest for the start of next week, and then eventually, it will mean more storms into the fire zones. So, that could be good news continuing the threat of moisture as we go forward in time.

Otherwise, we're looking at a cold front pushing to the Ohio Valley and the northeast. So, beautiful weather in store for the weekend. In fact, I actually wanted to show you the best places to go this weekend where sunshine, temperatures are below normal. Not bad to go in Atlantic City, to go to the Hamptons, Bar Harbor. Love this 80s and 70s. Plan, plan, plan.

BROWN: I'm going to beach.



BROWN: I might be going with you, Indra --


PETERSONS: We'll all go together.

BROWN: Yes. Why not? Have a party.

ROMANS: Talking about baby sitter?


PETERSONS: Things just changed.



ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan join us now. You, guys, want to come to beach with me. I need some help.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I see you're trolling for it. I see you're trolling for it.


BOLDUAN: You pay my way and you feed me, I'll baby sit.


BOLDUAN: We do have a lot coming up, though, guys.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to be talking a lot about the Georgia school shooting mainly because of this 911 tape. It is not just that there is a call. It's not just that this clerk was there, this woman who made such a difference. People, in these moments of crisis, don't do what this woman did.

This clerk, who you're going to meet this morning, she did things under duress with a madman in her face who was clearly there with lethal intentions on his mind. It's just so unusual. She made such a difference in a situation that could have gone so horribly wrong that it is worth our attention. And then, to use it as a spring board into the discussion of what can we do to help our schools be safer. So, we're going to follow that. BOLDUAN: Amazing what she did.

And we're also -- this is also amazing. We're going to meet a man who came back to life after he was pronounced dead for 45 minutes, if you can believe it. His doctors are stunned saying they have never seen anything like this. We're going to talk to what I think everyone can call the miracle man and his family. They're going to be joining us live.

CUOMO: And we're also taking a look at this Dr. Phil story, you know, learning a tough lesson that you can't just delete a tweet and think it's going to go away. He asked this provocative question about drunk women, obviously, for one of his shows and then he deleted it, but there was backlash. We're going to look at the controversy and see whether it's fair. What were his intentions? What was the reaction? We'll tell you about it.

BOLDUAN: You can create a whole mess in 140 characters. That's --


ROMANS: A guy who usually fixes messes, creating messes. So, that's what kind of makes dog bites (ph) -- man bites dog story there. Thanks, guys.

BROWN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, jaw dropping hit in Atlanta Braves rising star injured at bat. How he's doing this morning? That's coming up in the Bleacher Report.


BROWN: The NCAA under fire again, this time, for telling a student athlete who lost two family members that he can't play this season. Andy Scholes joins us now with more on this story in this morning's "Bleacher Report" -- Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey. Good morning, guys. A college basketball player, Kerwin Okoro, lost both his father and brother in the last year. So, he decided to transfer from Iowa State to Rutgers to be closer to home, but the NCAA says he's going to have to sit out this season in order to do so.


SCHOLES (voice-over): And this is another case of the wording of the rule getting in the way of what's right. You can get a hardship way for the player right away for a sick family member, but if a family member has already died, you're out of luck. Koro tweeted about the ruling saying, "I'll make the wise decision of staying off social networks today because if I express my feelings right now, I might just say the wrong thing." Now, Rutgers plans to appeal the NCAA ruling.

Well, Mike Tyson is back in boxing, but he's not lacing up the gloves. Tyson is now a promoter in charge of Iron Mike Productions. His first event will be tomorrow night in New York. And Tyson may not be knocking anyone out anymore, but he still knows how to get people excited for a fight.


MIKE TYSON, BOXING PROMOTER: I'm a little nervous here, but I'm just so excited about being involved with this whole establishment. And, I don't know. I need some of these fighters to come out and say I'm going to kill him or something. I want you to talk about his mother. Come on, we got to -- tickets, man. Come on, man.


SCHOLES: Well, a broken jaw is common in boxing. Baseball, not so much. Scary moment to Brave/Mets game yesterday. Jason Heyward takes this bat ball right off the face. He walked off the field but went straight to the hospital. Heyward has a fractured right jaw and will undergo surgery later today. He's expected to be out four to six weeks.

All right. We've seen awesome pool dunks this summer, but guys, this one is going to be hard to top. The ball changes hands 11 times with multiple trampolines, kids on roller blades, a gorilla suit and the dunker is wearing go-procamera. Check it out. We get multiple angles in this one. Pretty awesome stuff. Like I said, that one is going to be hard to top.





BROWN: That's what they did with their free time.

ROMANS: How many takes, how many takes before they got it right. Just perfectly right.

BROWN: The end of summer.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

BROWN: Thank you.

And we'll be right back. Stay with us.


BROWN: All right. So, what does a driver to do when there a moose is hogging the road? Ever thought about that? Big dilemma here. What you can really do? Jeanne Moos tells us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you're on a wilderness road in British, Columbia, think of this as the equivalent of being stuck in traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just want to get --


MOOS: Outdoor rider, Bernie Barringer and a fellow bear hunter headed back to camp when this moose with two calves refused to move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to get through.

MOOS: For about five minutes, they let the moose stare them down, then they gingerly tried to get around her, but was the moose intimidated by this big truck? The driver had a theory.

VOICE OF BERNIE BARRINGER, OUTDOOR RIDER: He felt like there must be wolves or grizzly bear around there because she would not leave the roadway.

MOOS: Several times, she blocked charge, trying to protect her calves, one of which she accidentally kicked while charging.

BARRINGER: She actually ended up ramming the truck four different times.

MOOS: Men were no longer chuckling after this slam.

BARRINGER: At times, it was a little bit scary, but we really breathed a sigh of relief when we finally drove away.

MOOS: The truck had a heavy duty bumper guard so it wasn't damaged.

(on-camera) The last time we saw something like this, it wasn't a moose, it was a camel.

(voice-over) A camel at a drive-through zoo in Missouri. The family ran out of treats and the camel acted like jaws and even followed the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he's coming with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Camel on the run.

MOOS: Moose on the run.

(on-camera) Then she chased you?

BARRINGER: She actually left the calves to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.

MOOS: The irony would have been if you were hurrying home for moose dinner.

BARRINGER: Yes. They're wonderful. They're better than beef.

MOOS (voice-over): Some animal lovers had a beef with the cat and mouse, truck and moos game. So Bernie disabled the comments after posting the video.

BARRINGER: There were some real vulgar attacks saying that we were harassing her.

MOOS: But Bernie says they were patient during an encounter that lasted 50 minutes. The moral of the story, don't mess with mother moose, even if you call her miss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, miss. We don't want anything to do with you.

MOOS: Jeanne moos, no relationship to her, CNN, New York.


BROWN: Just for clarification.

ROMANS: You know, a moose can be very dangerous. They do charge. We were in Colorado and they said they're more dangerous than a lot of the other animals.

BROWN: Watch out, especially when they have their babies with them.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Mother moos.

BROWN: Yes. Watch out.

ROMANS: Protecting her young.

BROWN: Well, that's it for EARLY START. Thanks so much for spending part of your morning for us. Time for "NEW DAY."

ROMANS: Take it away, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Finally, Jeanne Moos can clarify for everyone.


BOLDUAN: So, no one can say Moos, Jeanne Moose anymore.

BROWN: No confuses.


BOLDUAN: But, I guess you have to be careful with all the babies nearby.

CUOMO: That's true. That's true. That was great. Great little video there to start the morning, right? I liked it.

BOLDUAN: I liked it, too.

CUOMO: And then, of course, those guys, they think they're worried about the moose. Little did they know their real enemy.


CUOMO: The people on internet.

BOLDUAN: Exactly -- like the call of the haternet someday.

CUOMO: Right. Mama moos has got nothing on the trolls.


CUOMO: All right. Take a look at your clock, it's just about the top of the hour. Here on "NEW DAY," it means it's time for your top news.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he will start shooting.

CUOMO: Face to face with a gunman. The amazing 911 call from the school clerk who talked down the Georgia shooting suspect, potentially, saving dozens of lives.

BOLDUAN: Under pressure. President Obama facing growing calls to act after Syria is accused of using chemical weapons. Will the U.S. be drawn into the fight?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deadly seas. A shark attack off the coast of paradise turning deadly. A tourist killed. Officials say those attacks are on the rise.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It is Thursday, August 22nd, six o'clock in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: And I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here with news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Good morning, everyone.

BOLDUAN: Coming up in the morning, coming up this morning, is Bob Filner finally ready to step down from office? The San Diego mayor now stands accused of harassment by no less than 18 women. But, he has now come to an agreement with the city. Does this mean he's heading out? We'll talk about it.

CUOMO: OK. Now, we've heard the threats from companies before that the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare will cause them to cut benefits and workers hours. Well, now, one major company has moved beyond idle threats. The shipping giant, UPS says it will not provide health care to 15,000 spouses of its workers. But why? Well, the company blames Obamacare for its decision. We'll tell you why.