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Syria Center Stage At G20 Summit; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Votes to use Force in Syria; How Much Does Obamacare Cost?; Ready For Some Football?

Aired September 5, 2013 - 05:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Michaela Pereira. So glad you can join us this morning.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. About 30 minutes past the hour right now. Great to see you.

PEREIRA: Promises to be a very tense few days in St. Petersburg, Russia. World leaders gathering there for the annual G20 Summit. President Obama is on his way there now. In fact, he should be arriving within the half hour. President Vladimir Putin will be there, too. Their relationship is, well, let's just say, frosty.

But feelings aside, can they come to terms over a military response in Syria? Jill Dougherty is in St. Petersburg this morning. Jill, good morning to you. What is the plan for President Obama at the summit?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he will be arriving here and actually the most dramatic moment, Michaela, would have to be that firsthand shake with President Putin. President Putin is, after all, the host of the G20 here in St. Petersburg and he has to greet Mr. Obama as he has to greet other world leaders. But you can bet the cameras will be flashing at that one.

Then, they have a working session and then another handshake this evening at a working dinner. And really, the question is, they will have chances to be -- they'll be at the same table. They will be brushing into each other, but will they actually sit down and talk about Syria? At this point, there's nothing formal, either side is saying, planned, but they will definitely have a chance to exchange some type of comments. We'll have to see. It will be very interesting.

PEREIRA: It's very interesting to imagine this. These events are so well-orchestrated given the security concerns, given the pomp and circumstances of such event. We also have heard, though, rumor it may be or just scuttled (ph), but are they actually changing the seating assignments in the summit itself so that the president and Putin aren't seated near one another?

DOUGHERTY: Yes. There have been some reports about that. Not sure exactly how recently they did that, but it's -- what they have done, apparently, is if you did it according to the Russian alphabet, that would put President Putin and President Obama very close to each other. But if you do it by the English alphabet, they are separated by about four people or so.

And that, apparently, is how they ended up. So, they won't be close to each other. There's a lot of choreography that goes on at this, Michaela. But you know, President Obama comes in here with a win with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote authorizing some type of limited military action. Still has to go to the Senate. And not clear how it will go in the House.

So, he has his own domestic concerns about that issue, and President Putin seeing it completely in an opposite direction. So, those are the dramatic moments that they'll have to address, if they talk, if they pass in the night.

PEREIRA: Well, I'm sure, in our president's agenda, he's got many things that he wants to address with Putin and that he'll find time to make that happen, albeit maybe in a hallway somewhere. All right. Jill Dougherty with the latest. Thank you so much from St. Petersburg this morning.

BERMAN: It's like when a divorced couple goes to a wedding. They go to great ends to make sure they don't sit at the same table. Not in the same --

PEREIRA: But then they end up meeting near the coffee maker.

BERMAN: Exactly. And what do they say?

All right. Thirty-three minutes after the hour. While President Obama is making that pitch overseas --


BERMAN (voice-over): -- some top officials are back on Capitol Hill again today for closed door briefings in the House and the Senate. They're laying out the administration's case for why they say the Assad regime was behind the deadly chemical attack that left more than 1,400 people dead.

Why the administration says the U.S. now has to take action? That argument was met with skepticism in a House committee on Thursday.


REP. TED POE, (R) TEXAS: Why does America always need to be the world's policemen? Our enemies really don't know what our foreign policy is. Our friends don't know what it is. And I'm not so sure Americans know what our foreign policy is in the Middle East.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not about getting into Syria's civil war. This is about enforcing the principle that people shouldn't be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity.


BERMAN: Meantime, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize the use of force. The full Senate is expected to vote on this measure next week. You're going to want to stay with CNN for the very latest on the situation in Syria, including tonight, Chris Cuomo hosting a town hall to discuss this crisis. What the White House is planning and what it could mean for this country? That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.


PEREIRA: In other news, just how much will it cost you to buy health coverage under Obamacare?


PEREIRA (voice-over): New numbers out this morning. The results are mixed. Health care consultancy, (INAUDIBLE) looked at premiums in 11 states and the District of Columbia and found that the average 21- year-old smoker will pay about $270 a month. That price then goes up to about $330 a month for the average nonsmoking 40-year-old.

It hits $615 a month once you turn 60. That's before tax credits and government incentives to help those with lower incomes.

BERMAN (voice-over): Yes. And former president, Bill Clinton, is urging those against the health care overhaul to stop trying to repeal it, defending Obamacare ahead of the October 1st start of insurance exchanges. Listen.


BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This law has already done a lot of good. It's about to make 95 percent of us insured with access through affordable care. Whether we like it or don't, we all be better off working together to make it work as well as possible to identify the problems and fix them instead of to keep replaying the same old battle.


BERMAN: The former president is the first in a series of administration allies helping talk up the law ahead of the individual mandate which takes effect on January 1st.

PEREIRA: The spouses of gay and lesbian veterans will soon get access to benefits from the Veterans Administration. The White House deciding to ignore a federal statute that denied access to those benefits for people in same sex marriages. In a letter to Congress, attorney general, Eric Holder, wrote the law is now unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

BERMAN: The Massachusetts Supreme Court is hearing a pledge of allegiance challenge from atheists who say the pledge discriminates that attorney for parents telling the court atheist children are denied meaningful participation because the patriotic language refers to God. The lawyers for the school district argued the pledge is not mandatory and that students can opt out by either leaving out the reference to God or by not reciting the pledge altogether. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA (on-camera): Well, it may take months to find out exactly what caused that massive fire that's burning near Yosemite National Park, but fire officials are now ruling out an illegal marijuana growing operation is the cause. One local chief had speculated that this illegal pot garden may have played a role.

However, a U.S. force service official says that's unlikely, because the ground is simply just too steep for that kind of operation. Lightning has also been ruled out as a cause. Right now, we are seeing 80 percent containment on that fire, and it has burned already an area about 370 square miles.

BERMAN (on-camera): So big. All right. Indra Petersons is with more on the weather this morning. Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning. We have a big storm in the west which actually could impact that area, and I'll show you why. This is a very early storm for the season in the Pacific Northwest to be this size. Three to five inches, that's we're looking the potential in Washington today and even in towards Idaho where we have those fires and burn areas.

More importantly, we are concerned about some flooding in those regions. So, a big storm moving in. We'll show you what it looks like here on the map. We have a cold front starting to kick through. And notice, right toward Yosemite, we see that tail end of the cold front. The reason that's so important is we could see some of those winds kicking up in that region today.

So, we're going to be watching for about 15 to 20-mile-per-hour winds. Some gusts going up at even as high as 30 miles per hour. And of course, by Friday, they should back off. And of course, we see stronger winds that's never a good thing for firefighters. Temperatures, though, do remain pretty much normal, about the 70s there.

Otherwise, the big story is going to be a cool down here in the northeast and mid-Atlantic today. We have a cold front that swept through overnight last night and look at the temperatures. New York City about three degrees below normal, Boston today just into the 60s, even Burlington today into those low to mid 60s out there.

And as we go forward in time, you'll notice New York City starts to go about seven degrees below normal. We're talking about low 70s tomorrow. And we'll start to see a little bit of recovery behind it once we get farther way from that cold front. But either way, we're going to be talking about such cool lows that possibly the potential for some frost, not here.

But notice, I mean, you're talking about some 20s and 30s, especially into the mid-Atlantic or excuse me in the northeast. We're talking about --

(CROSSTALK) PEREIRA: I thought we were supposed to have autumn before we went straight to winter?



BERMAN: California girls.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

A Houston area high school sophomore is dead and three others injured after a fight escalated into a knife attack.


BERMAN (voice-over): All of this happening during just the second week of school at Spring Hill School. The victim identified as 17- year-old Joshua Broussard (ph). Three teens were taken into custody. The "Houston Chronicle" reports police are now focusing on one of them, 17-year-old Luis Alonzo Alfaro. He's charged with murder and he is old enough to be considered an adult under Texas law.

PEREIRA (voice-over): The Department of Justice says it will not open up a civil rights investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson (ph) whose body was found in a rolled up wrestling mat at his high school in Valdosta, Georgia. The DOJ says while there may be criminal concerns in the case, there is not enough to indicate a civil rights violation.

Police will officially call the death an accident, but a second autopsy conducted on the 17-year-old claims Johnson died from unexplained apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma.

BERMAN: Oklahoma's governor has now ordered the father of a three- year-old at the center of an interstate custody battle that he'd be sent back to South Carolina, signing an extradition order for Dustin Brown (ph) on custodial interference charges.

So far, Brown has refused to let his biological daughter, Veronica, be seen by her adoptive parents who live in South Carolina despite four courts, including Supreme Court, saying the girl should be returned to them. The man's lawyer says he doesn't expect the extradition to go through though because Brown has not committed a crime, he says.

PEREIRA: It's getting a little ugly on the campaign trail. New York City mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner, got into quite a heated argument with a Jewish voter. That confrontation was caught on camera. It took place at an orthodox bakery in Brooklyn. The man apparently yelled insults at Weiner concerning his sexting scandal, but when the heckler shouted he was married to an Arab, well, that set Weiner off.

ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: -- that you're my judge. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fine. You talk to God and work out your problems and stay out of the public eye.

WEINER: I'm not going to -- that's not up for you to judge, my friend.


WEINER: I don't take my judgment for you and I don't judge you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're bad example for the people.

WEINER: That's your judgment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. That's obvious.


WEINER: And you're perfect. You're going to judge me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not running for office.

WEINER: You know who judges me? You know who judges me? You know who judges me? Go visit with your rabbi. Go visit with your rabbi. It shows how much you know.

PEREIRA: Weiner later responded to a Twitter post saying that he had melted down with a tweet of his own saying "If by meltdown you mean stood up to a heckler, yes, did that, that's what mayors have to do sometimes."


BERMAN (on-camera): Amazing video. Coming up, the odd stack (ph) against him. One man taking to the streets to save his wife's life. We're going to tell you this story when we come back.


PEREIRA (on-camera): All right. We have a thing called good stuff on "NEW DAY." So, we're going to borrow a little bit of that. Shhh, don't tell Cuomo, OK? We have heard so many stories of love and devotion. This one from South Carolina is so, so special. Larry Swilling has been walking literally hundreds of miles near his home in Anderson for nearly a year. He wears a sign.

You see, his wife's kidney is failing. So, he's asking on a sign for people to call and get tested to see if they might be a match for a donation. We have good news to report this morning. Doctors think they have a match from someone all the way in Virginia Beach who Larry's story and made the call.


LARRY SWILLING, FOUND KIDNEY FOR WIFE: Every person that has called, I appreciate it. And more than I could ever tell. It hadn't been hard on me. I don't pay it no attention.


PEREIRA: That is love right there. That's his wife. That's Jimmie Sue (ph). She says she knew her husband would not stop until he got her a new kidney because that's just the kind of guy he is. If all goes well and this donor is confirmed as a good match, the surgery could take place next week. We wish them both well and many, many more years of happiness together.

BERMAN: He would have walked hundreds of miles over hot coals, if he had to.

PEREIRA: That's devotion right there. How about that?

BERMAN: Wonderful.

All right. With that, let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY."

PEREIRA: Oh, no. He might have heard --

BERMAN: Chris and Kate, we stole that, but hey, it's --


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys. That was a beautiful story. That was a very, very good story. There's a lot of -- we're going to bring some good news, hopefully, in the show today, but there's a lot of very serious and often not great news that we're going to be covering this morning as well.


BOLDUAN: Normally, I try to be differential to you, my love.

So, obviously, the big -- one of the big stories we're following is going to be Syria. The president landing in Russia, heading there for the G20 summit, but the G20 summit is kind of taking a backseat to the tension in Syria, obviously. It's going to dominate the conversation there. What's going to happen when he talks or at least meets with President Vladimir Putin?

This will be the first time they've seen each other in quite a while, and it is a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time low. Frozen, everyone is kind of saying. So, what can the president say to try to win favor of Russia in favor of a military strike against Syria?

Can the president say anything to change that relationship? And also, this will be critical for the president trying to win international support amongst allies, in general, as he's going to be heading back home to sell his case for military action in Syria. We're going to be covering all the angles there.

CUOMO: It's important to start with that story because it's immediate. The implications are now and they affect us here in the United States, and of course, the international community, especially Syria, what will be the ultimate impact of helping?

The other story we have this morning is an emotionally confusing one. Ariel Castro, you know now that he hanged himself in his jail cell. People have mixed feelings about that. You know, who really does, his family, but also the family of the victims. There's a lot of confusion here about what they really wanted but it was (ph) justice?

Is this closure? And the only way to really find it out is to speak to them, and we have some exclusive interviews this morning, reaction from that family that has surrounded the victims now and what they're saying and how they feel. And we're going to take you there this morning. And you get to hear from them. That's what we have.

PEREIRA: Yes, because it's important to remember, they're not the ones that committed the crime.

CUOMO: That's right.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

PEREIRA: All right. We'll get to you, guys, in a few minutes. Enjoy your coffee. We'll see you out there soon.

BERMAN: Coming up here, get ready for some football. The long national nightmare is over. The 2013 NFL season finally here. Andy Scholes is coming back with the early favorites on the "Bleacher Report," next.

PEREIRA: I'm going to be a football widow now for a while?


PEREIRA: All right.


BERMAN: All right. It is here. The NFL regular season finally kicks off tonight in Denver as the Broncos host the Super Bowl champion, Baltimore Ravens (ph). Andy Scholes joins us now with more in the "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, John. Well, the wait is finally over from tonight until February. We will have NFL football every single week. And of course, it all gets started tonight with that match up, Broncos and the Ravens. Usually, Super Bowl champs get to start off at home on the first Thursday night of the season, but a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles forced the Ravens to make this a road game.

Kick off tonight is at 8:30 eastern. While the Ravens are the defending champs, it's the Broncos that Las Vegas has as the favorite to win the Super Bowl this season. Well, wide receiver, Wes Welker, will make his debut with the Broncos tonight. Earlier this off season, the former Patriots wide out (ph) said he felt he couldn't be himself in New England with Bill Belichick looking over his shoulder.

But now, Welker is in Denver, and apparently, free to express himself as we see in his new line of whacky, old spice commercials. Take a look.




SCHOLES: I don't understand it, but it's funny.

All right. The two best offensive teams in baseball squaring off last night. The Red Sox hosted the Tigers. John, I'm sure you were enjoying this. The Red Sox hit a franchise record tying eight home runs in the game.

BERMAN: Feels so good.

SCHOLES: Yes. David Ortiz had quite the night. Not only did he hit two moonshot (ph), also collected his 2,000th career hit. Did it on an RBI double. Red Sox crushed the Tigers 20-4.

Well, on the line-up section of today, you can read about Floyd "Money" Mayweather's record payday for his upcoming fight with Canelo Alvarez. According to reports, Mayweather is guaranteed to receive $41.5 million for the fight. That breaks his record of $32 million, which is what he received for each of his previous two fights. So, John, who says boxing is dead?

BERMAN: I tell you what, Andy, if you keep coming back with Red Sox victories where they score 20 runs, we're going give you much more time for the "Bleacher Report" every day. We're going to blow it out and make it like a 15-minute segment to show all the plays.

SCHOLES: I'm down.

BERMAN: All right. Andy, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.


BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START this morning. I've been completely abandoned by Michaela Pereira. Where did she go? Find out on "NEW DAY" which starts right now -- Chris, Kate.


BOLDUAN: We've taken her. Thanks so much, John. We'll take you, too. We'll see you in a few minutes.

CUOMO: It's the top of the hour, that means it is time for us to give you the top news.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line.

CUOMO: Happening now, President Obama lands in Russia amid the highest tensions since the cold war. What will he say to Vladimir Putin? Back home, a key Senate committee votes for a strike against Syria. We'll show you the next steps.

BOLDUAN: Storm watch. A tropical storm forms in the Caribbean. We are tracking its path. Could this be the longest the Atlantic goes without a hurricane?

PEREIRA: Weiner fights back. The mayoral candidate in a heated epic argument with the voter. It has gone viral. We now know what started it all.

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." It's Thursday, September 5th, six o'clock in the east. We're going to hear exclusively this morning from some of the friends and family of Ariel Castro's victims. They are reacting to his suicide with a combination of anger and relief. One relative saying she wished he suffered more, starved to death. That's what she wishes. You'll hear from others coming up.

BOLDUAN: Wow. And plus, we're going to have two important health alerts coming up. One involves a major recall of favorite yogurt brand and the other flips (ph) conventional cooking wisdom on its head. A new study says you should not be washing chicken before you cook it. The reasons why may surprise you, but they're important.

PEREIRA: Plus, take a look at this video. This man is paying at a gas station when suddenly a car crashes into the front, missing him -- wait for it -- misses him by mere inches.


PEREIRA: We're going to tell you what exactly happened. More on this amazing story coming up.


CUOMO: Holy cow!

Up first this morning, we'll call it the showdown in St. Petersburg. President Obama arriving right now in the Russian city for the G20 summit. He and Vladimir Putin set to meet within hours. It is hard to overstate just how high tensions are between the two leaders, and in the past 24 hours, it's gotten even worse. CNN's global coverage of the crisis in Syria begins with senior white house correspondent, Brianna Keilar, traveling in St. Petersburg with the president this morning. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. President Obama is due to land here in St. Petersburg, Russia, really any minute now and head for the G20 summit.