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Will U.S. Go It Alone?; Yosemite Wildfire; NFL Settles Concussion Lawsuit

Aired August 30, 2013 - 05:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Striking Syria. Will President Obama launch an attack without the support of one of his closest allies? We are live.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Wildfire, floods, and an intense heat wave. Indra Petersons is tracking your holiday weekend forecast across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just so happy that they are here and alive and thriving.

HARLOW: Defying the odds. Told to terminate her pregnancy, a mother now celebrating the successful separation of her twins conjoined at birth.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Good morning. Early, early morning here on EARLY START. Welcome back. I'm Michaela Pereira.

HARLOW (on-camera): I'm Poppy Harlow. It is 31 minutes past the hour. Happy Friday, everyone.

PEREIRA: We start with what is a stunning setback for President Obama and his plan to hold Syria accountable for an alleged chemical weapons attack on its own people. Britain's parliament voting not to endorse military action. And Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted the result. Still though, the White House may be prepared to go it alone, making the case that Syrian chemical weapons threaten our allies and the world at large.

CNN's Atika Shubert is following developments for us from London. Atika, what's the latest from 10 Downing Street?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, 10 Downing Street at this point is simply trying to recover from last night's humiliating defeat. I mean, these are the headlines in just about every paper today. You can see humiliating defeat is on almost every single one of them. And it was very much a surprise in an emotional night.

The vote was defeated by 285 to 272. So, it appears that David Cameron misjudged not only opposition in parliament but members of his own party as well. Take a listen to what he had to say after the vote was announced.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons. It is very clear tonight that the while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament reflecting the views of the British people does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly.


SHUBERT: A stunning turnaround. Just a few days ago, Prime Minister Cameron was talking about taking quick and decisive action backed by parliament, and now, parliament has voted no, saying it does not have enough evidence or justification to take any military action in Syria.

PEREIRA: Atika, we were also understanding that France is weighing in on this discussion about the situation in Syria. President Francois Hollande, what does he have to say about the position that country will take?

SHUBERT: That's right. He did an interview with "The Lemons" newspaper today and he said he does not support any intervention that would liberate, quote/unquote "Syria" or try and overthrow the Assad regime.

And this is, perhaps, a reference to what has been said before also by President Obama that the only solution for Syria is a political solution, one in which Assad steps down of his own accord and hands over transitional authority to someone else or to another organization.

So, that seems to be the case for France, which sort of muddies the waters a little bit in terms of what exactly does a military strike, will a military strike achieve? And this is something that President Obama is going to have to answer for himself.

PEREIRA: We'll be watching this to see how the White House responds to this, not only the developments from Britain but also now from France. Atika Shubert, the very latest, thank you so much.

HARLOW: Day by day, fire crews in Northern California slowly getting a handle on the wildfire burning inside and around Yosemite National Park. It is one of the largest in the state's history. Nearly 200,000 acres have burned. The fire has destroyed some 11 homes and thousands of structures are still threatened.

Right now, the fire is said to only be 32 percent contained. And evacuation advisories from several surrounding communities, though, have been lifted. That's one bright spot. We'll talk about the weather, also how that impacts this. Let's bring in Indra Petersons for more. Are things looking better this weekend to help those firefighters? INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, yes. We keep saying, it's really just an unbelievable turn. And you were talking about how long this fire has been burning. It is now the 13th day. So, it's almost two weeks of unbelievable conditions in the area. Now, the one thing to note, regardless of the weather, look at this terrain here. We start to see the fire build its own weather, and unfortunately, that's also one of the difficult characteristic.

Little bit of a difference from yesterday probably hard for you to see. We're not seeing a lot of spotty clouds on this. So, we're not seeing as much thunderstorm activity in the afternoon which is good in the news of less winds out there and less threats for dry lightning. What we're actually looking is at a lot of 70s.

Winds generally calm, but again, this is on the outside of the fire. It's going to be a huge blaze like this. You're going to see winds within those slopes created by the fire themselves. Unfortunately, that's actually the bigger issue there. As far as the heat, what we're really seeing the heat today again is in the Midwest still dealing with potentially record breaking heat especially in Des Moines, Iowa today.

Looking at those temperatures finally cutting back and cooling off as we go through the weekend. Now, the biggest change is tomorrow, so Saturday will be in through Sunday. You can actually see that cold front kicks through and that should cool you off and get some more of those moderate temperatures in there.

Unfortunately, though, for Labor Day weekend, it does mean some chances for showers out there. In fact, there's two cold fronts. I mean, take you day by day(ph), there's today as we go in through tomorrow, you'll start to see the Ohio Valley starting to get some rain, and then, we go in through Sunday, and of course, you'll see the two systems merge.

And it looks like the northeast mid-Atlantic all the way down to the southeast. So, pretty much everyone awake right now may see some rain. Sorry.


PEREIRA: I looked at the forecast this morning. It was rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. But you know what, people that have Monday off, it won't matter. A little rain, you'll find things to do and you're just off and don't have to go to work.

HARLOW: Watch a movie.

PEREIRA: Except watch a movie.


HARLOW: Michaela will be waking up at 2:00 a.m. to go to work.

PEREIRA: Oh, you won't be?


PEREIRA: Us, dedicated journalists, will be here on Monday.

PETERSONS: This is true.


PEREIRA: All right. Still ahead -- thanks Indra.

In the news, not guilty, that is the plea entered by a Miami man accused of murdering his wife. Let's tell you that story right now.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Then, he posted a picture of her bloody body on Facebook. Along with this confession, he wrote, "I'm going to prison or death for killing my wife. Facebook people, you will see me in the news." Derek Medina (ph) is charged with second-degree murder, but prosecutors could still charge him in the first-degree.

They say he shot his wife at least six to eight times. Medina's attorney says they have not decided yet on a defense strategy.

HARLOW (voice-over): Meantime, police say they have found a handwritten confession by one of the two teens charged in the brutal beating death of a World War II vet. When we first brought you this story last Friday, the veteran's name is Delbert Belton (ph). He got a military sendoff yesterday, remembered as a patriot who fought at the battle of Okinawa.

Investigators say the 88-year-old was brave to the end, fighting back during a botched robbery attempt. His death sparked national outrage. You see him right there. These two teens are going to be charged as adults. They face life in prison.

PEREIRA: Jerry Sandusky firing off a letter from prison slamming Penn State for paying millions of dollars in settlement money to his victims. The former assistant football coach wrote in part, "The only concern from the beginning of this by administrators and trustees has been to protect their image."

The school recently settled with 25 of the 31 young men who claimed Sandusky sexually abused them when they were just boys. He is serving up to 60 years in prison.

HARLOW: Hundreds marching in Billings, Montana demanding the resignation of Judge G. Todd Baugh. He is the one who called himself a, quote, "blithering idiot," after saying a sexually assaulted -- raped 14-year-old girl who later killed herself seemed, quote, "older than her chronological age."


JUDGE G. TODD BAUGH, YELLOWSTONE COUNTY: I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, the judge also gave the now 54-year-old former high school teacher who raped this 14-year-old girl, the sentence he gave? Just 30 days in jail. Prosecutors called that a slap on the wrist. They have asked the judge to put him away for 20 years. Meanwhile, an online petition is circulating to remove that judge from office at the seat he's held for nearly 30 years. for his part, though, the judge said he has no plans to step down.

PEREIRA: Well, a big day for San Diego today. The embattled San Diego mayor stepping down today. Nineteen women have accused Filner of sexual harassment. Bob Filner has apologized to them all, but he still denies he had sexually harassed anyone. And at least one lawsuit against Filner is still pending.

The San Diego city council did accept his resignation last week and returning for paying some of his legal costs. A special election to replace the mayor is now scheduled for November.


HARLOW (on-camera): Straight or gay? It is all the same to the IRS when it comes to marriage and your taxes. As you know, after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, now the IRS says straight couple, gay couples will be treated the same when it comes to paying their taxes. Interesting development there and something people have been waiting for for a long time.

All right. Coming up, South Dakota's governor taking his career to new heights for a good cause. We'll show you about that next.


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START. This is a great story. Once conjoined twins beating the odds. They've been successfully separated. Their doctors say they're cautiously optimistic that the twins will recover. Six-week-old Owen and Emmett (ph) were born joined from the breast bone to the belly button.

They shared a lower liver and -- they shared a liver and bowels. Their intestines were outside of their bodies when they were born, covered with just a thin layer of tissue. Back in March, another doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy, but the specialist in Dallas had other ideas.


JENNI EZELL, MOTHER: The doctor here basically said these boys have a really good chance. This is not your only option. And at that point, we were just floored. I mean, I could not contain my joy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I guess the lesson is, have faith.

HARLOW (voice-over): Have faith. Tears of joy from that mother, Jenni. She says she's now looking forward to Christmas and birthdays with the boys.


PEREIRA (on-camera): South Dakota's governor taking quite the plunge for a very good cause. The governor says he was not nervous before his first and most likely his last sky dive. He did this. Wow! To raise money teaming with a local dairy queen for the Children's Miracle Network. The six-year-old governor says, all in all, it was quite a rush.


GOV. DENNIS DAUGAARD, SOUTH DAKOTA: I was ready to jump. I forgot that Dan said we're going to do a ready, set, jump. So, I was all ready to go. And I kept waiting. You know, when do we go? And then I felt him push forward, then I remember pull back and then was sort of dive out.


PEREIRA: You kind of forget all the things you're supposed to remember. And luckily, you're strapped to someone who does know what time it is and when time to jump. Jump is actually the governor's second attempt. The first two weeks ago was canceled at the last minute because of bad weather. Look at that. What a rush.

HARLOW (on-camera): I love it.

PEREIRA: I've always wanted to do that.

HARLOW: You have? I have never wanted to do that.

PEREIRA: Always wanted to do it. I think at that point, I'd chicken out as you stepping out of the plane.

HARLOW: I'm a little terrified at that.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris and Kate join us now. Have you, guys, ever sky dived?


PEREIRA: And you high wire walk.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not allowed. It's in my contract. I'm not allowed to jump out of planes.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And in my contract, it says I should as often as possible.


CUOMO: But I say, Mick, if you want to do it, we should have you do it.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: You can chicken out anytime when it comes to jumping out --



BOLDUAN: We'll get to that a little later, maybe, but we've got a lot coming up on the show.

CUOMO: We do have the TGIF edition, right, right before the Labor Day weekend. This is a big one. However, there are just big issues on the table and we're going to have to get into them. The situation in Syria is seeming more imminent. The president went before Congress. It was a big phone call with the leaders, he made the case.

What was their response? What further questions remain? We'll tell you. What does it mean that the U.K. in early booster of the president's idea of going to Syria now backs out? We're going to have General Zinni on. We remember him from Iraq, his role on CENTCOM. He's going to go through the strategy whether it makes sense to him and we'll talk politics about it as well.

BOLDUAN: Will the U.S. go it alone? That's a big question, right?

We're also talking about, there's a new warning out this morning about a very popular pain reliever. You see it right there. You probably have it in your medicine cabinet, right? Extra Strength Tylenol. Well, the maker of Tylenol says there is a chance and risk of overdosing, and they're making big moves to try to make sure you're aware of that.

What are the risks? What do you need to know? Elizabeth Cohen is going to be here to sort it all out. I've got several bottles, I think, in a bag, a purse, briefcase, and cabinet. So, we all need to know.


CUOMO: It sounds like you also have a problem.

PEREIRA: Yes. I was going to say, the breaking news here may be that you carry too much on those shoulders of yours to work every day.

BOLDUAN: I am the reason for the new warning on the label. No, I'm just kidding (ph).

PEREIRA: If Katie get her one of those roll-y carts to carry all of her stuff in.

BOLDUAN: Bring it all.

CUOMO: Kate has nine bottles of Tylenol and a liver the size of a throw pillow.


HARLOW: We never knew. The things you learn at 5:47 on a Friday morning.

PEREIRA: "NEW DAY" here to inform.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

HARLOW: All right. Guys, looking forward to the show. Thanks so much.

Coming up, what are Tim Tebow's chances of staying in the NFL? Was he able to prove himself to the Patriots?


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. The NFL and its former players have agreed to a blockbuster settlement that may end the legal fight over head injuries in the NFL. The league has agreed to pay $765 million to its retired players and their families. This is a very big deal. Andy Scholes joins us now with more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, Poppy. Well, this case could have dragged out for years, but by settling it now, this dark cloud hanging over the league goes away. And the players who have concussion-related injuries will get the help they need. A major part of this settlement centered around clearing the NFL from having to admit any liability or the brain-related injuries were caused by football.

Now, many considered that a huge win for the NFL and its owners. All retired players, whether they were involved in the lawsuit or not are eligible to receive compensation from the league.

Now, here the breakdown of how the money will be out. $675 million will go to injury compensation, $75 million for medical exams, $10 million for medical research, plus more for litigation fees. Now, this agreement must still be approved by U.S. district judge, Anita Brody.

Well, the college football season kicked off last night with Heisman candidate, Jadeveon Clowney, in sixth rank South Carolina hosting North Carolina. The gamecocks wasting no time. Connor Shaw find Shaq Roland for a 65-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Gamecocks go on to win the boarder war (ph). 27-10.

SEC post (ph) Ole Miss and Vanderbilt open their season against one another. Vandie took a leap with a minute and a half to go, but the rebels (ph) just got breaks loose for a 75-yard touchdown run with the few (INAUDIBLE). Ole Miss wins the shootout, 39-35.

On, NFL experts make their 2013 Super Bowl picks. Will the patriots make it to the big game? More importantly, will Tim Tebow still be on New England's roster? He had a decent night going for two touchdown during the final preseason game. He also had a pick and was sacked four times. Now, it's up to Bill Belichick to decide if Tebow has done enough to make the team roster. Patriots must cut down their roster to 53 players by Saturday. All right. Well, how did the San Diego Chargers get ready for last night's game against the 49ers? A walk through Wednesday on the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the "USS Ronald Reagan." Now, even some lucky sailors got to show off their skills during the practice. San Diego teams, they got a huge military following.

With the base is all around the areas, it's great, Poppy, to see the Chargers showing our military heroes some love out there. And it's funny, you can't go too long on one of the aircraft carriers --

HARLOW: You got to be precise. I love that they did that for our military heroes, honoring them. And nothing more American than that, right? You got our military members and you got football and you got a beautiful, sunny day. Nice to see. All right. Andy --

SCHOLES: Can't beat it.

HARLOW: You can't beat it. Thank you so much, Andy.

All right. Coming up, some entertainment news for you. Fergie has a new hit, not with the Black Eyed Peas, with her husband, Josh Duhamel, their first child. We'll tell you more. Next.


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 57 minutes after the hour. Taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning. Congratulations going out to actor, Josh Duhamel, and his wife, Fergie, the singer from the Black Eyed Peas. Their first son, Axl Jack, arrived on Thursday weighing in at seven pounds 10 ounces.

Axl was delivered by cesarean. Duhamel has said he's both excited and a little terrified of becoming a new dad. As new father (ph), that sounds just about right. Congrats to them.

And from beginnings to endings, Clint Eastwood and his wife, Dina, are reportedly separating after being married for 17 years. "US Weekly" reports that Dina Eastwood confirmed the news telling the magazine they're still close but have been living apart for some time. The 82- year-old actor and director married the former television news reporter who's 48 back in 1996.

All right. That's it for EARLY START this Friday morning. Time for "NEW DAY." A lot of news to cover. Chris, Kate, take it away.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Poppy.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

Take a look at your clock, everybody. Almost the top of the hour, it means it's time for your top news.

All right. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to "NEW DAY." TGIF, Friday, August 30th, six o'clock in the east. Now, we're going to be covering all the angles on Syria this morning, because there are major developments on multiple fronts. We're going to hear from members of Congress who were briefed by the president last night some saying they didn't hear enough concrete plans.

We're also going to talk to retired general, Anthony Zinni, and Representative Elliot Engel who was a part of the briefing last night. So, we'll give you the full picture.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, as we head into Labor Day weekend, millions of Americans are ready to hit the roads, but there are new fears the gas prices will be spiking. Again, uncertainty over Syria is a major part of that. So, just how high will prices go?

PEREIRA: And speaking of the holiday weekend, we want to get you ready for this. We're going to take you inside the Atlanta panda nursery where there are newborn twins. They are so funny. They are newborn panda twins. They're being cared for there. You may not actually be able to handle the cuteness factor of this, but we'll prepare you for it.

CUOMO: But another thing that may well happen this weekend could be a move on Syria. So, let's get the latest in that situation. The administration is making its case to members of Congress. They were doing it Thursday and continue today. They say the evidence is clear. The Assad regime carried out that deadly chemical attack on its own people.

The White House, though, may have to go it alone after a surprise decision by Britain to sit out a military strike. And the U.S. evidence could be made public as soon as today to balance it out. So, we're going to cover every angle of this developing story beginning with CNN's Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Dana.

Dana can you hear us?


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top Obama officials insisted to lawmakers on the Thursday night conference call they have no doubt Bashar Assad's regime in Syria was behind deadly chemical attacks there.

Secretaries of state, defense and others backed that up by revealing to lawmakers that the U.S. intercepted communications from a high level Syrian official, which clearly indicates they were responsible for these weapons, that according to Congressman Eliot Engel who participated in the call.

Though, Obama officials insisted no decisions have been made on military action against Syria, CNN is also told they privately made clear to lawmakers that chemical weapons in Syria is such a threat the U.S. could engage with or without support from critical allies like Great Britain.

One key GOP senator, Bob Corker, emerged from briefings Thursday announcing support for what he called surgical proportional military strikes given the strong evidence of the Assad regime's continued use of chemical warfare.