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Obama: Syria Attack Will Be No Iraq; Yosemite Wildfire; Fast Food Workers Strike Today; Johnny Manziel Suspended For Half Game

Aired August 29, 2013 - 05:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will always be so grateful for what you did and you will always be our heroes.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A mother's gratitude for the people who saved her son when a sinkhole swallowed him whole.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That story is simply a miracle. I mean, I still can't get over that story. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans for you this morning.

PEREIRA (on-camera): And I'm Michaela Pereira. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

The conclusion is Syria's government was behind a chemical weapons attack and President Obama says they must be held accountable. No green light yet for any military strike. The president is still deciding on a response.

Meanwhile, the White House expected to brief key members of Congress sometime today on the latest intelligence regarding Syria. A U.S. bid to strike Syria for alleged use of chemical weapon suffering a setback, though, at the United Nations. The Obama administration failed to get U.N. approval for the use of force. The president insistence that Syria must face international consequences for its actions has put the U.S. at odds with Russia.

Phil Black for CNN is live in Moscow for us today -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Michaela. Yes. Russia is warning of catastrophic consequences not just for Syria but for other countries in the region as well if some sort of military strike is carried out against Syria.

The Russian option suggests that it wants the international community, U.S. and its allies, to wait for the investigation team, the U.S. investigation team on the ground to complete its work, present its work and its findings to the United Nation Security Council. And then, only if the U.S. and its allies are able to get some sort of mandate, a resolution authorizing force against Syria, should they then do so. But, the United States knows that should it go to the United Nations and follow that process, Russia will use its veto. It will not allow any sort of resolution that authorizes force in Syria which was still place the U.S. and its allies in the same position, whether or not to proceed without that U.N. mandate. And if that decision is made, Russia knows there is very little, in fact, nothing it can do to stop a military strike under those circumstances.

The Russia, its part, says there is not enough evidence to blame the Syrian regime for that alleged chemical weapons incident. It believes the Syrian rebels were responsible, and it suggested it's all part of an elaborate plan to manipulate international opinion so the opposition can trigger some sort of intervention in the conflict on their side -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Phil, I think many are struggling to understand why Russia continues to support Syria given all of this that has gone on.

BLACK: Well, a lot has been said about the country's longstanding political, military, and economic ties going back to the days of the Soviet Union. But Russia is also not just standing with Syria, it is standing in opposition to western and U.S. policy in the region. Russia very strongly believes that wars and revolutions do not create peace and stability.

And so, it looks to other examples in the Arab spring, the conflicts in Iraq and Libya. And it believes the consequences from all of those events and from intervention in them and support of them has been overwhelmingly negative. And so, it believes that should that same event be played out in Syria, it fears the same consequences, the stability in the region, things could get a lot worse very quickly -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Well, there is concern that if nothing is done, things will get a lot worse very quickly. Phil Black reporting for us. We appreciate it. Thank you.

ROMANS: Crews this morning making progress on that wildfire burning inside and around California's Yosemite National Park. It's a slow process. The fire keeps spreading. It's now burned through 192,000 acres. We can tell you this morning, it is 30 percent contained. Officials estimate full containment will take another three weeks. Getting a unique perspective this morning behind the fire lines from our very own, Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're standing in the northwestern portion of Yosemite National Park. This part of the park completely closed to the public. And the reason is because of what's behind me, tens of thousands of acres of Yosemite are now engulfed in flames. This is our very first look at the rim fire coming into this national park.

You can see the huge cloud. It looks like a cumulus weather cloud, but that is created by the fire that has spurred into this park. You could see the brown and the orange. That is the fire. You can see the trees that are being fully engulfed by the smoke. Tens of thousands of acres of this beautiful park, one of the most beautiful places on earth, have now been destroyed.

But that part is wilderness. The part of the park where the tourists go is still open. Blue sky. The goal is to keep the fire, which is rapidly approaching away from the rest of the park. So, this area where we're standing right now backfires will soon be set here to try to keep the fire away from the rest of the park. You know, most of the news is good with this rim fire. The containment numbers are going up.

The humidity is going up, which is a good sign. The winds are down. Nobody has been killed. There've been no serious injuries. That is good news. The negative news is what's happened in the park, because this fire continues to grow. It's very dangerous and there's an awful lot of concern about what's happening in this, one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.


ROMANS: Well, that's amazing pictures. I'm so glad --

PEREIRA: And even the sound.

ROMANS: I know.

PEREIRA: You can hear -- Indra talked before about the storm and the weather systems that these fires almost create for themselves, and you forget the energy and the sound that comes out of them, too.

ROMANS: Unbelievable. Indra is here. She's tracking the national weather for us. California firefighters count on any help from Mother Nature here at this point?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I think Michaela said it perfectly. It's merely the key is now the fire is creating its own weather and that's the problem. You have the steep cliffs out there regardless of really the temperatures and the winds in the region. It's having to deal with the old weather that the actual fire is creating. As far as what is within the region, well, temperatures in the 70s. So, that is good news.

We are not seeing red flag warning. One of the things we are monitoring are some stronger winds there. We're looking at some southwesterly winds 15 to 20 miles per hour. So, that's definitely tough for those firefighters in that region. But also, we're going to talk about, of course, it's going to be the air front. I mean, so difficult in that region. This isn't working for us here. There we go.

We're also talking about that steep terrain in the region. We're talking about some of these thunderstorms. So, one of the other concerns is it sounds good like we have rain in the area. We are concerned with, of course, the threat of dry lightning which could strike more fires in the region. So, that's going to be big concern in the region as well today.

Otherwise, we'll be watching is for some monsoonal moisture. We have couple of tropical storms right down to the south of us. So, it's the remnants of what was Ferdinand over the weekend. But now, we actually have tropical storm Juliet out there. So, all of this moisture could make its way a little bit farther north so that could bring the potential for some flooding into the four corners.

It doesn't look like it will make its way north enough to help in the fire, but we will be looking, unfortunately, for the threat of flooding into the southwest. So, that's going to be a big concern. If we could only push that moisture just a little bit farther (ph) up, but of course, it's barely the lowest.

ROMANS: It's never where you want it and how much you need at the right time.

PETERSONS: Wish I can make it happen.


ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.


ROMANS: A stunning accusation to the young couple outside Seattle.


ROMANS (voice-over): Husband and wife charged with torturing a man's 13-year-old brother who was supposed to be in their care. Investigators say the boy was zip tied to a chair, beaten with a baseball bat, his open wounds doused in alcohol. You know, the list of horrors in this case goes on and on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are really horrific. They go way beyond the pale. And, it's something that is just not tolerated. Absolutely will not be tolerated.


ROMANS: Police say the boy managed to escape from his brother's basement two weeks ago and was taken to a hospital where he is recovering. The couple stands accused of kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, four counts of assault.

PEREIRA (voice-over): A south Miami man scheduled to be arraigned today in a grizzly crime involving Facebook. Derek Medina (ph), the man pictured here, admitted to posting a photo of his wife just moments after shooting her to death.

Medina turned himself in but not before posting this on Facebook. "I'm going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife. Love you guys, miss you guys. Take care Facebook people. You'll see me in the news." That man is now charged with first-degree murder.

ROMANS: An update now on the 10-year-old Amish girl whose parents stopped her leukemia treatment. They say it was making her too sick. A judge ruled in their favor in July, but now an Ohio appeals court is telling him to reconsider. The girl's hospital wants to appoint a nurse as her guardian in the hopes of restarting her chemotherapy. Doctors say it's her only chance of survival.

PEREIRA: We have a heartwarming reunion to tell you about in Indiana. Remember the six-year-old boy who was swallowed alive by that sinkhole last month? He had a chance to meet and thank the heroes who rescued him. There were tears of joy and gratitude as Nathan Woessner's mother offered her thanks.

FAITH WOESSNER, NATHAN WOESSNER'S MOTHER: There are no words that we can say that we'll adequately tell you how much we appreciate all you did for our son and how hard you worked to bring him back to us.


PEREIRA: So emotional. That little boy was trapped under 11 feet of sand at a popular lakeshore dune for more than three hours. He was brought to the hospital in critical condition, but thanks to the heroes honored last night. This almost gives me chills. Oh, this almost gives me chills. Nathan started first grade this week.

ROMANS: You know, in this business, you hear a lot and you deliver a lot of bad news.


ROMANS (on-camera): And to watch that story unfold and have the right happy ending, just great stuff.

PEREIRA (on-camera): Yes. We all need that kind of outcome.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

All right. Coming up, expect delays at the drive-through today. Thousands of fast food workers across the country, they are protesting what they call starvation wages. They are going on strike. That's next.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. Don't be surprised if you see something a little different on the way to get your fast food fix today. Thousands of workers in as many as 50 cities are set to walk off the job. Chains like McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Wendy's all targeted. Workers say they're protesting against starvation wages.


PAMELA POWELL, FAST FOOD WORKER: Sometimes my husband eats and I don't or sometimes I eat and my husband don't. You know, we have to alternate like that because we can't eat every day and still supply for our children.


ROMANS: Average fast food worker makes about $9 an hour, just over $18,000 a year. That's well below the poverty level, the national poverty level for a family of four. They're asking for a raise to $15 an hour. They want to be able to organize unions. They want more benefits. But restaurants say the current rates are plenty fair.

And I'll tell you, the National Restaurant Association is speaking on behalf of all the chain say that most only five percent of fast food workers actually make the minimum wage. They make more than minimum wage. And they say these are steppingstone jobs that, you know, teach people.

PEREIRA: They used to be students and kids that would take those jobs but because so many people have been out of work, they've had to rely on these jobs.

ROMANS: Absolutely. The average age of a fast food worker is 29 years old. So, it's not the teenager or the college, you know, that you were thinking of. These are people who are trying to make a living at fast food, which is a different dynamic in the economy.

PEREIRA: Certainly is.

ROMANS: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY."

PEREIRA: Oh, Chris and Kate, what do you, two, up to? What have you got for us this morning?


PEREIRA: Good morning.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, we're looking at this pivotal day on the real argument about what to do about Syria. The timeframe has just been accelerating day after day. The president is going to Congress. That's a complicated situation constitutionally and politically. We'll take you through that.

He's going to face big questions. We know the human loss. You're looking at it on the ground. A horrible situation, but what can the U.S. really do about it? Can we do anything about it quickly? What does it mean about what side we're actually taking there in the conflict there? So, there are a lot of big question.

We're going to talk to a lawmaker, senator, who has real doubts about this and wants the president to make a case. We'll take you through all that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We're also going to talk about -- it's a very sad story and a controversial decision by a judge in Montana that's sparking outrage. This judge gave a teacher 30 days in prison for raping a student. Just 30 days in prison. Well, now, some are calling on the judge to step down not only because of the sentence, but because of what he said about the ruling and the victim in sentencing the man. They're calling for him to step down. We're going to talk to the victim's mother this morning.

ROMANS: That's an emotional story.



ROMANS: All right. Can't wait to see all that. Thanks, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Coming up, Johnny Football accused of signing autographs for cash. He's suspended by the NCAA, but you know what, the penalty is not as bad as you might think.


ROMANS: And some of the language around -- I can't wait for the "Bleacher Report" because there's interesting twists to the suspension.


PEREIRA: Welcome back. Well, you know, the U.S. Open is off and running at Flushing Field -- Meadows, rather. And I had my first ever real grand slam experience yesterday. I had a chance to go one-on-one with teen's tennis sensation, Vickie Duval. She's coming off the biggest victory of her young career. An upset two days ago, beating a former U.S. Open champ.

I get a one-on-one with her. You'll see it on "NEW DAY" today, but I wanted to give you a little sneak peek, Christine.

ROMANS: Oh, I can't wait.


PEREIRA: I don't know who is happier in that picture.


PEREIRA: So, stay tuned for that, that's coming up.

ROMANS: Can't wait.

All right. Andy Scholes is watching U.S. Open and Heisman trophy winner, Johnny Manziel's mini-suspension, sort of mini-suspension for his role in signing autographs at this morning's "Bleacher Report." Well, like half a game.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, that's right. Good morning, guys. Well, the NCAA said they found no evidence to prove that Johnny Football received any money for signing autographs, but they did say he violated a rule by signing so many autographs and that's why he's been suspended for the first half of the Aggies season opener against Rice on Saturday.

But once the second half rolls around, Manziel will be back on the field, which is a huge win for Texas A&M. The NCAA did say if any new evidence comes to light, they will review it and consider if further action is appropriate.

Well, football season kicks off tonight. The NFL season, meanwhile, will get started a week from tonight with the Broncos hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Now, the Broncos have caught plenty of flak this week for hanging a huge promotional banner of Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, outside their stadium.

Now, Peyton Manning also has a big banner outside the stadium. And he said the Flacco banner is rather strange. The broncos said they resisted hanging the big picture of Flacco, but the NFL insisted.

Well, Dodgers rookie phenom, Yasiel Puig, was benched by his manager, Don Mattingly, mid game yesterday. Puig looked as -- lolly gagging and didn't do his part in breaking up a double play. Body language in the outfield will make a couple catches looked (ph) to be a little too relaxed as well.

After the game, Puig said he was told he was taken out because he wasn't acting ready on defense. Dodgers official reason was manager's discretion.

On the swagger (ph) section of today, you can check out what a $13,000 basketball looks like. That's right, 13k. The famous Beverly Hills boutique is celebrating the opening of its newly re-modeled store by selling this blue leather basketball. Not only does it look fancy, it can actually be used to play basketball, Christine.

And they're only making two of this, which is said to be just like their fine purses. So, if you're going to get one, you're going to want to get on that list pretty quickly.

ROMANS: And if you're in the NCAA, you certainly cannot sign it.


SCHOLES: Right. At least, you can't take money for signing it.

ROMANS: You can say your name, but you don't own your name. I don't know. That's a great story. Half a game for him. All right. Thanks, Andy Scholes. We're going to be right back.


ROMANS: My assistant this morning. All right. No doubt, we have Miley Cyrus to thank for getting twerk into the Oxford dictionary, but now, CNNs Jeanne Moos tells us everyone seems to be given that word, twerk out. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The word twerk has become a kwerk in our vocabulary. Who needs a joke the word alone gets a laugh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of twerking.


MOOS: And it's all thanks to Miley Cyrus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, she going to hell in a twerking --


MOOS: Twerking now merits a scientific explanation. There is pregnant twerking, even grandma's twerking. Leno is broadcasting fake sightings of Miley twerking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- than I hop. There she is at the supermarket.

MOOS: Buzz Feed tweet famous paintings include her twerking, but the website, Gouker (ph), put together a compilation of the media's marathon twerking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miley Cyrus' fun and twerk work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The twerk extravaganza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The twerk-tacular.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The twerk seen around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mother of all twerks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twerking, by the way, is when you gyrate your lower extremities. Oh, forget it. Just Google it.

MOOS: If you do, you'll find plenty of how tos.


MOOS: A weatherman and anchor duo at KXRM Colorado Springs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, do that.

MOOS: From the word twerking on their lips to actually jerking their hips.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it feels like you're going to bring your hips down and under, right? MOOS: Kimberly Price was a reluctant twerker. The meteorologist's Justin Chamber's (ph) barometric pressure rising. Twerk just made it into the Oxford English dictionary. Guessing on HLN, Morgan Freeman defined it --

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Involving, thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. It's the first time I've ever heard of it.


MOOS (on-camera): The dictionary says the origin of twerk is probably work as in work it.

(voice-over) Demonstrated in this clip from a pre-twerking Hannah Montana.

(on-camera) Supposedly a T was added to work to make twek. Aren't you glad you know that?

(voice-over) And to think it's just a couple of months ago, CNN correspondent, Christine Romans, was still brimming with innocence, so she shocked herself of news of some twerking teens.

ROMANS: What is twerking, you ask? I have no idea. That's twerking. My grandmother watches this show. Can we just take that down?

MOOS: And here's a phrase we haven't heard Miley Cyrus utter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so embarrassed.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



ROMANS: All right. That's it for EARLY START. It's time for "NEW DAY." Take it away, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Christine, we're going to take it to Jeanne.


BOLDUAN: We're going to take it to Jeanne Moos. I can't believe that she's using you the prop for her piece.

ROMANS: A prop --

CUOMO: I like that she called you out for your faux purity.


BOLDUAN: No, exactly. Unfortunately, you now know everything about twerking. Way more than you wanted to know, Christine.

ROMANS: That was back in June. I was so pure back in June. I didn't even know what that was. Now, I feel like I'm bombarded every day by it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. All right. You're going to twerk, we'll take the show. We'll talk to you soon.

ROMANS: All right.

CUOMO: It's almost the top of the hour, everybody. That means it's time for your top news.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no interest in any kind of open ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure they are held accountable.

CUOMO: There need to be consequences. The president's strongest words yet on Syria, but members of Congress may not agree. We're tracking the intense lobbying effort going on in D.C.

BOLDUAN: Scorching heat wave that won't let up. Now, some schools in the Midwest are canceled for the rest of the week. When will it cool down? PEREIRA: Shelly speaks. George Zimmerman's wife in court now speaking out saying her husband has beaten down her self-esteem and why she fears for her life.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." I am proud to announce it is Thursday, August 29th, six o'clock in the east.

The president is making his case to Congress today calling for action against Syria. He will face questions about the end game strategy, the chance a quick strike leads to all-out war and more. We're going to talk to an ally of the president, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia who's also asking for more answers.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And also, are you yawning at this moment? Are you reaching for the coffee? Well, there may be good reason. A new sleep study is out from the CDC. It shows just how poorly Americans are sleeping these days. Prescription drug use to help with sleep now on the rise.

So, why are so many people having such a hard time sleeping and what can you do to get a better night's rest? I, myself, will be learning something in this.

PEREIRA: That's a big topic around this office. I will tell you.