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Syria And The Obama Administration; Posthumous Honor For Slain Officer; Ryan Braun Says Never Mind, I'm Guilty

Aired August 23, 2013 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Crisis in Syria. Allegations of chemical warfare amidst of a bloody civil war there. Many now asking, should the U.S. intervene?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And new clues behind a student's murder. Police say he was killed for sport. But was there another factor behind the tragic shooting?

ROMANS: State of emergency. Firefighters battling fast moving flames near a popular California landmark.


HARLOW (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Happy Friday. I'm Poppy Harlow.

ROMANS (on-camera): Say it again.

HARLOW: Happy Friday.


ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour. I'm in for John Berman this morning.

HARLOW: All right. International eyes this morning remain on Syria where anti-regime activists say hundreds were killed in an alleged massacre. And amid all the calls for investigation, some are asking why is the United States not doing more. Here's our Jill Dougherty.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least a thousand victims, many of them women and children, are reported dead in a possible chemical weapons attack, this time, near Damascus raising questions once more about President Barack Obama's red line.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: The president has directed the Intel community to here, in the United States, to urgently gather additional information. That is our focus on this end. DOUGHERTY: The U.N. is asking the Syrian government to allow a chemical weapons inspection team to investigate. U.S. officials say, so far, they cannot conclusively determine whether chemical weapons were used and they're not saying exactly what President Obama would do if they were.

PSAKI: This would be an outrageous escalation of chemical weapons use if the facts are found to be true. And the president has a range of options to consider.

DOUGHERTY: A year ago, this month, Obama drew his red line.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my --

DOUGHERTY: But that means nothing to Syrian president, Bashar al- Assad, argues Sen. John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: The president of the United States says that if the use of these weapons that it would be a quote, "red line and a game changer." He now sees that as a green light. And, that is the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously.

DOUGHERTY: McCain says it's time to take military action. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, cautions the use of U.S. military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic, ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.

(on-camera) And you're also checking the actual pictures on YouTube?


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): In Washington, the U.S. representative of the Syrian opposition studies the gruesome photos of families killed in the attack. There should be consequences, he says.

GHADBIAN: You need to at least have the credible threat of the use of force which has been liking. And the (INAUDIBLE) take that very seriously. He's been given all of the wrong signals in the past. And so, all of those strong signals meant to him a license to kill.

DOUGHERTY (on-camera): The state department says if this is determined to be a chemical weapons attack, it would be an outrageous escalation. But they're not saying whether the president would escalate his response.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the state department.

HARLOW: And coming up on "NEW DAY," you're not going to want to miss this. Our Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview with President Obama talking about the situation in Syria, including the administration's calls when investigation into that alleged chemical weapons attack. That's right here less than half an hour, 6:00 a.m. eastern. ROMANS: Can't wait for that.

All right. One of the teens accused of killing an Oklahoma college basketball player targeted him because of his race. The Twitter feed of 15-year-old James Edward Jr. was full of derogatory tweets about White people and possible threats of violence, but his sister tells Erin Burnett her brother is not a racist.


RACHEL PADILLA, JAMES EDWARDS JR., SISTER: He has a lot of Caucasian friends with whom he hangs with. The only way that I would feel that he would say anything racist about anybody is because we have felt racism from some of the people here in the community of Stevens County.


ROMANS: Edwards along with 16-year-old Chancey Luna are charged with killing 22-year-old Christopher Lane in cold blood on an Oklahoma street while Lane was simply jogging. A third teen is charged as an accessory. Police say they did it because they were bored.

HARLOW: Another very disturbing story to tell you about this morning. Police in Spokane, Washington are on the lookout for two teenagers that are accused in the vicious deadly beating of an 88-year-old World War II veteran. This happened in a parking lot of a fraternal lodge. Police believe that it was a totally random act.

Delbert Belton (ph) he suffered serious head wounds. He died at the hospital. You can see him right there. He had survived being shot in the battle of Okinawa during World War II. The suspects are believed to be just between 16 and 19 years old. Police say there's no indication that he knew any of them.

ROMANS: Disturbing allegations this morning from Ohio where a day care worker is facing child pornography charges. Police say Kanye Ramirez (ph) had photographs of a child in sexual situations on her phone, including photos of bestiality. But police say it was not a child from the day care where she worked. Her boss there says the allegations took everyone by surprise.

NORMA JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, TLCC PRESCHOOL AND DAY CARE: It absolutely floored me. I would have never suspected a thing, never. A model employee, came to work, outstanding. Groups with the children. Parents loved her.


ROMANS: Police say Ramirez sent the photos to her boyfriend, William Brock (ph). He was arrested earlier this summer also on child pornography charges.

HARLOW: Well, a Memphis kindergartner may get suspended, maybe even expelled. The five-year-old, this is after a gun went off inside that child's backpack. Luckily, no one at the school was hurt. The Shelby County school district says the gun discharged as students were waiting for the opening bell at West Side Elementary School cafeteria on Thursday.

Workers at the school immediately seized the backpack. The boy was detained and questioned along with his mother.

ROMANS: Scary moments on a southern California freeway when a tour bus carrying gamblers to an Indian casino overturned. Authorities say it went through a chain link fence off Interstate 210. That's east of Los Angeles. More than 50 people injured.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looked in the back, there's four people, and -- glass all over the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not have any severely injured patients, which when you have a bus accident on the freeway, it's pretty amazing.


ROMANS: Most of the victims spoke little or no English and required Mandarin or Cantonese translators. Officials believe the bus may have hit another vehicle causing it to run off the road.

HARLOW: And still, no official word on the future of San Diego mayor, Bob Filner. He has apparently reached a deal with one of his accusers that CNN has learned may lead him to stepping down from office, but the city council has to still sign off on it. And those lawmakers will meet today to discuss that.

Eighteen women, so far, have publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment. The mayor has long insisted that he is innocent, although, he did go for treatment.

ROMANS: If it just -- that the longest goodbye in American politics?

HARLOW: It is the longest goodbye and it's not goodbye yet.

ROMANS: Not yet. All right. We'll see.

All right. The New York City could has rejected Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vetoes approving new checks on the NYPD, among them, restricting a stop and frisk policy in high crime areas that Bloomberg says it's necessary to fight crime. It allowed police to stop people on the basis of reasonable suspicion that they could be engaged in criminal activity. The council also passed a measure creating an NYPD watchdog.

HARLOW: And a lawsuit is taking aim at Indiana's new abortion restrictions. Planned Parenthood has asked the federal court to block the part of the law that requires clinics that administer the RU486 abortion pill to have full surgical facilities. Planned Parenthood says that's unreasonable and irrational and would shut down one of their clinics in the area when they passed the restrictions last summer. Lawmakers insisted they are designed to protect women's health.

ROMANS: All right. A massive wildfire out west burning out of control in California. It's near Yosemite National Park. Look at the pictures. Well, 2,000 firefighters have been called in to battle the fast moving fire. It's consumed now 63,000 acres just so far. It has quadrupled in 24 hours. Gov. Jerry Brown says more than 2,500 homes are at risk. He's declared a state of emergency there, no surprise. Officials are only reporting two percent containment of this fire.

HARLOW: Unbelievable how much it has grown so quickly. Our Indra Petersons is here with us to look at more. What is the latest? Is the weather that's coming in going to help at all?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. The weather is kind of a little indifferent. It's actually not a huge player. No red flag warnings, but that terrain is so extreme. And that's kind of good news in the sense that's not necessarily bad winds, about eight to 10 miles per hour. The biggest thing we can actually point out is just how dry it actually is in the area.

This is a water vapor (ph). You can see the moisture is really to the north of it and maybe south and east of the area. Another way to look at the numbers, itself. So, here's the relative numbers. They are definitely low. We're talking about teens here. Only 17 percent as we go in through the afternoon. So, that's going to be the biggest concern here.

But other than that, the good news, yes, no red flag warnings in the region for today. The big thing we're going to be watching on the west coast is lot of monsoonal moisture kicking up which eventually could help the fires out towards in Idaho. Of course, that's far the north, but either way, this will be an area of concern as heavy flooding could be the story as we go towards the end of the weekend and into next week.

The reason for that is actually all the tropical moisture there that's kind of making its way toward Baja. Actually, tropical depression nine right now. All this eventually will make its way all the way up into the Four Corners and we'll be looking for that heavy rain potential again as we go towards the end of the weekend. Let's switch all the way to east coast.

Now, we're talking about the cold front making its way from the mid- Atlantic to the south today. So, another day rain to mid-Atlantic and the south, but behind it, finally, I can say it beautiful not only in the northeast, but also in the south. High pressure building, and it looks good.

ROMANS: We'll take it.


HARLOW: All right. Growing concern over leaks at a Japanese nuclear plant. This morning, investigators are surveying the scene. We'll have more on that coming up next.


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.


HARLOW (voice-over): A big honor for an M.I.T. police officer killed in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings. Remember his name, Sean Collier (ph), well, he has been awarded a posthumous police badge in the city of Summerville where he lived and where he once worked as a civilian police officer.

It is a dream, friends say, he had lived his whole life for. Collier was shot dead on April 18th allegedly by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev sparking at chase that resulted in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's death, and police eventually apprehending Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

ROMANS (voice-over): A memorial service is set for Saturday to remember eight-year-old Ethan Anderson and his mother, Christina who police say were killed by a family friend, James Dimaggio. Their bodies were found in his burned out home near San Diego earlier this month. He was killed during the rescue of 16-year-old Hannah Anderson who police say he kidnapped. She now says she considers herself a survivor, not a victim.

HARLOW: Government inspectors are today looking at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in light of the revelation that thousands of gallons of radioactive liquid leaked from tanks at that sight. And workers have now found other tanks where radiation levels are unusually high. The plant suffered several meltdowns and serious damage following an earthquake and tsunami back in 2011.

ROMANS: North and South Korea are holding talks today on letting families separated for decades possibly reunite. Many families, of course, were split up after the Korean War with some stuck in the north while their relatives live in the south. Now, the reunions were suspended in 2010, but South Korea's president has said it's time for the north to quote, "open its heart."

HARLOW: And it's been a lot of sort of sad news this morning. So, we want to give you something fun to start your Friday with. This is a great story. OK, this is going to make you go wow. Take a look at that picture. That fish is a 350-pound tuna. It's 74 inches long. If you stood it up, it would be a tall as a person. Oh, and guess who caught it?


ROMANS: Jimmy Buffett.

HARLOW: Jimmy Buffett. This happened close to where we are on Wednesday in the waters off of Nantucket. It was on apparently Jimmy Buffett's day off between concerts On New York's Long Island. He says it took him just about an hour to reel that big tuna in. How awesome is that?

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS (on-camera): Look, Cuomo is a big fisherman. That is a big catch. You never caught anything like that off Long Island, I bet.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's why it's called a fish tale, of course, he has.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Shows what you know, Christine Romans.


CUOMO: In a story that we'll have a little bit later on in the summer or actually into the fall, we went out with the wicked tuna guys.

BOLDUAN: oh, yes?

CUOMO: And, you'll see what happened and Christine --

BOLDUAN: I can't wait.

CUOMO: I'm not one to speak out of school.

BOLDUAN: But bring it, Buffett.

ROMANS: I've done a little bit of fishing. I'm going to trash talk Cuomo until the rest of the summer --


CUOMO: Why not? Be nice to me.


BOLDUAN: Right. What's coming up on "NEW DAY?" Huge exclusive interview, Chris. Tell us about it.

CUOMO: We get an opportunity to sit down with the president. He's going through New York and Pennsylvania. He's pitching a plan to make college more affordable. He believes he can take on universities and get them start checking their costs. He believes he can help people who graduate not be so burdened by debts. So, we are talking about that at home.

But there's a lot going on in the world, and he was open answering the questions on all of it, Egypt, Syria, why haven't we done more, what is his plan for that, NSA surveillance programs, the Washington gridlock. So, we went through what matters at home and abroad. He answered all the questions.

We'll show it to you this morning. And then, we'll have our correspondents and experts tell us what it means for what's going to happen going forward.

BOLDUAN: Tough questions and not a lot of easy answers. I guess, that is the job of the president. That's right. And we're also going to have, I guess, we need to keep talking about fish, because we have another fisherman story, this one, a very scary one. Fisherman rescued after he tread water for 24 hours, if you can believe it, without any life jacket on. He was rescued by a family who simply came upon him, found him kind of bobbing around in the water, obviously, asking for help off the coast of Florida.

He has an incredible story to tell now. Thankfully, he is doing OK. And we are going to tell you his story.

ROMANS: Twenty-four hours treading water.

BOLDUAN: I mean, think about it. Think about whenever you're in a pool and you're treading water just to tread water. Think about doing it in the open ocean.

HARLOW: In Florida. In Florida. Can't wait to hear that and see the interview. Chris, Kate, thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right.

HARLOW: All right. Well, the beard may be no more. Why one baseball closer is doing away with his famous, I might say, a little scary whiskers? The story coming up in this morning's Bleacher Report --


HARLOW: -- next.


ROMANS: Ryan Braun was suspended last month for the rest of the season for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. Now, he's finally coming clean.

HARLOW: Andy Scholes joins us with more now in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ROMANS: Hey there.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, guys. Well, Braun is basically the Lance Armstrong of baseball. He doped, lied about it, attacked his accusers, and now, he's finally apologizing for it. Yesterday, the former MVP released a statement where he admitted using a cream and a lozenge to help him get over a nagging injury.

Braun said he was in denial and convinced himself he had done nothing wrong. In a letter addressed to Brewers fans, Braun said that he's committed to doing everything he can to earn back their trust and support.

Well, asked the question today, would you shave your beard for $1 million? Of course, most people would. But Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Brian Wilson, who has one of the most iconic beards in sports history, says no way. Wilson has been offered a million by to shave his fabulous beard and be an ambassador for the company. According to TMZ Sports Wilson turned down the offer and said he's taking his beard to the grave.

Wednesday, Tiger Woods pulled out of a tournament (ph) because he said the bed he slept on was too soft, leaving him stiff and sore. Yesterday, the world's number one golfer showed no ill-effects from the fluffy bed. Tiger shot a bogey-free, 67 in the first round at the bar place tournament. He's three shots back in the lead coming into today.

Golden hurricanes may now have the cutest mascot in sports. Meet Goldy. She's a five-month-old Golden Retriever, and she's the new dog ambassador for the school. Goldy is going to make her official debut at the football team's home open on September 7th, but she's already taking over campus. Check her out, guys.

She's got the cape there. She's been studying with kids, playing football in the field. She's got her own Instagram account. Already got around 1,600 followers. I think every college campus should have a puppy that's the mascot.


HARLOW: I think they should, too.

ROMANS: Retrievers are so cute, too.

HARLOW: Can we just go back to the beard story? I love that he's taking it to the grave. Romans was thinking maybe he had this beard to like scare off the people that he's pitching to.

ROMANS: Yes. Is this like, you know, psychological warfare for --

SCHOLES: It's intimidating. I'll tell you that.

HARLOW: No kidding.

ROMANS: He loves his facial hair.

HARLOW: That's true.

ROMANS: You got to give him that.

HARLOW: All right. Andy, have a great weekend.

SCHOLES: You, too.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.


ROMANS: Bon Jovi has had a lot of hits like "I'll Be There For You." But one of the band members is apparently not going to be there much longer. The website,, says guitarist Richie Sambora, there he is, he's been fired after 30 years with the band, said to be over money with Sambora getting a big chunk of the profits after each live show. He co-wrote many songs, the royalty checks will still keep coming. There have been rumors for months now about something going on between Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Whenever he's not on stage, whenever he leaves from the tour early, people start to, well, you know, tongues start wagging about what exactly is going on. They've been together for 30 years.

HARLOW: pretty sad. You're a long-time Bon Jovi fan.

ROMANS: I am a Bon Jovi fan, actually. From the business and music point --


ROMANS: That's it for EARLY START this morning. Time for "NEW DAY."

HARLOW: All right. Chris, Kate, take it away and have a great weekend.

BOLDUAN: Thanks. You, too. We'll see you soon. Big day ahead.

CUOMO: All right. Just about the top of the hour. Here on "NEW DAY," it means it is time for your top news.


OBAMA: We did a lot of heavy lifting to encourage the military to move in a path of reconciliation. They did not take that opportunity.

CUOMO: A "NEW DAY" exclusive. President Obama talks Syria and Egypt. Why he says the U.S. hasn't stepped in yet and how far he's willing to go. Plus, a first look at his plan to take on soaring college tuition.

BOLDUAN: Emotional reunion only on CNN, the school clerk who bravely talked a gunman into surrendering meets the 911 dispatcher who walked her through it all. The reunion you just have to see.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: On a roll. The battle of the tech titans takes a dramatic twist. Yahoo! now beating Google. Is Yahoo's! new CEO behind the surge?

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome to "NEW DAY," everyone. It's Friday, August 23rd, six o'clock in the east. I'm Kate Bolduan.

CUOMO: And I'm Chris Cuomo here as always with news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Good morning. CUOMO: This morning, we have an exclusive interview with the president. He's dealing with tough situations at home and abroad. So, it was good timing for an interview. We covered what the U.S. will in Syria and Egypt, how worried American should be about the NSA invading their privacy, and of course, we get his first comments on his new dog, Sunny.

BOLDUAN: Which everyone wants to hear.

CUOMO: That will be the highest --


BOLDUAN: That and a lot more to cover on that great interview.

Then, we're also going to be talking about Hannah Anderson setting the record straight. The California teen says she wants the world to know exactly what kind of relationship she had with James Dimaggio, the man who abducted her after allegedly killing her mother and brother, but is her first televised interview stirring up more questions than it's giving answers? We're going to talk about it.

PEREIRA: And we have an incredible story of survival. A 51-year-old Florida fisherman thrown from his boat in stormy weather. He then spends the next 24 hours in water, treading water, seven miles from ashore with no life vest. You'll find out How he managed to survive while being stranded at sea.

CUOMO: That is amazing story. Amazing story.

Up first, though, the exclusive interview. The commander in chief has a lot on his plate these days. We caught up with him on Syracuse, New York Thursday.