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Bombers Over Syria?; Lobbying Lawmakers on Syria; Constituents Say No; Obama vs. Putin; Syria and the G20; Report: Iranian Orders Intercepted; NSA Cracks Encryption; ICE Worker Leaked Info about Obama's Aunt; Napolitano's Last Day; Space Flight Success; Zimmerman Divorce; Montana Rape Resentencing; Jackson Trial Nears End; Teens and E-Cigarettes; August Unemployment Report; Apple Announcement

Aired September 6, 2013 - 05:00   ET




BERMAN: All right, good morning everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

BROWN: And I'm Pamela Brown. Great to be here with you. And happy Friday, everyone. It's September 6, 5:00 am in the east.

BERMAN: We're going to begin with new details this morning about planning for potential military action against Syria.

Until now, most of the discussion has centered around cruise missiles, Tomahawks fired from the Mediterranean.

But now CNN has learned that aircraft, including long-range bombers, are being considered as options for any strike. A U.S. official says it's unlikely that U.S. pilots would have to fly over Syrian airspace, however. The official does say that nothing has been decided and the planning process is far from being completed.

That will all depend on the situation, they say, on the ground. But before any strike can happen, Congress first has to give its OK and there remain serious questions this morning about whether there are enough votes to authorize military action against Syria.

The latest CNN count shows that most senators remain undecided. In the House, there are nearly four no votes for every member who says they definitely plan to vote yes. And Athena Jones reports some lawmakers who've expressed their support are getting an earful from their constituents.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Things got heated at Senator John McCain's town hall in Phoenix Thursday.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: Unalterably opposed to having a single American boot on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good enough.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't respect our view. We didn't send you to get war for us. We sent you to stop the war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot afford to shed more Syrian blood.

JONES (voice-over): As McCain, who supports missile strikes in Syria, tried to convince a skeptical audience that taking military action is in America's interest. The even shows the tough task ahead as the White House push to win over lawmakers kicks into high gear.

Back in Washington, the Democratic head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who also supports strikes, admitted to getting an earful from her constituents.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CHAIR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There's no question. What's coming in is overwhelmingly negative. There's no question about that. But you see, then they don't know what I know.

JONES (voice-over): The White House is lobbying members on the phone and in classified briefings. And national security adviser Susan Rice tweeted about a new website launched Thursday to help make the case to the American public.

But right now it's clear the White House faces an uphill battle getting enough votes to pass a resolution authorizing missile strikes. Public pressure is coming from all sides with pro-Israel lobby APEC urging Congress to support the resolution, saying, "Barbarism on a mass scale must not be given a free pass."

Meanwhile the liberal group Move On wants members to vote no and plans to send a petition to Congress and the president, pushing a more "prudent approach" than military action.

Key congressional leaders in both parties support action, but liberal Democrats and many Republicans are against strikes.

And members can still change their minds. Here is New York Republican Congressman Michael Grimm on Monday's SITUATION ROOM.

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), N.Y.: I would want the president's strike to be a very meaningful strike. We cannot allow a precedent of this regime, a regime anything like the Assad regime, to use chemical weapons.

JONES (voice-over): He was singing a different tune by Thursday.

GRIMM: The president and the administration has failed to really explain exactly what the plan is, what the goal is and that's a big problem for me.

JONES (voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


BROWN: And President Obama is not getting any luck for a military strike overseas. At the G20 summit, the question of what to do about Syria is hanging over the economic discussions there and the president's icy relationship with Russia's leader Vladimir Putin shows no signs of thawing.

Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is in St. Petersburg this morning.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a mere 17 seconds, they were all smiles, putting on a good face for the camera as tensions deepened between President Obama and his chief skeptic on Syria, Russian president Vladimir Putin. Obama still faces a long road ahead in his push for global support for a U.S.-led strike against Syria.

Asked if he's made progress --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are talking about the economy this afternoon.

KEILAR (voice-over): Syria is the proverbial elephant in the room as it's not even on the official agenda for the economics-driven summit, pushing all discussions on to the margins, in corridors and behind closed doors.

OBAMA: I think our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy, but a violation of international law that must be addressed.

KEILAR: In the midst of the private meetings, a very public key announcement on Thursday: Britain's ministry of defense confirmed reports that they found traces of sarin gas on clothing and soil samples from a victim in the Damascus attack.

Prime minister David Cameron discussed the new evidence in an interview with the BBC.

DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: I think the evidence is growing all the time. And we have just been looking at some samples taken from Damascus which further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb.

KEILAR (voice-over): So far Putin has not commented on Syria publicly at the summit. His press secretary took the reins, saying, "We all need a convincing and legitimate evidence of proof."

And to further the divide, Obama appears to be thumbing his nose at Putin on his own turf. He plans to meet with gay rights activists as outrage spreads over Russia's new law of banning any promotion of gay relationships to minors. Brianna Keilar, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: More on this story now. Military officials tell "The Wall Street Journal" that the U.S. has intercepted orders from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in the event of an American strike against Syria. Connect the dots there.

Other U.S. interests in Baghdad are also being targeted, according to those officials. They are particularly concerned about Iran's fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf, where there are U.S. warships now positioned.

BROWN: Well, the NSA is apparently winning its war on encryption and getting around privacy protections on the Internet. NSA documents obtained by "The New York Times", "The Guardian" and "ProPublica" shows the agency is using supercomputers and court orders to undermine those protections.

And the documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden show the NSA has cracked or circumvented the encryption that guards global banking systems, trade secrets, medical records and the emails of everyday Americans.

BERMAN: It was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement worker who leaked the immigration status of then-Candidate Barack Obama's aunt just before the 2008 presidential election. A newly released investigative report shows the ICE worker called an Associated Press reporter and shared the rumor. An immigration judge eventually did give the president's aunt legal status, allowing her to stay in the U.S. The workers name was redacted from that report.

BROWN: It is the last day for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. And Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver remarks at a farewell ceremony for her. Napolitano has so far singled out two concerns for her still-to-be- named successor, a massive cyber attack and catastrophic weather events.

Napolitano will be moving west to head up the University of California system.

BERMAN: So the good news is, it is Friday. CNN has confirmed, folks, it is, in fact, Friday.


BERMAN: Yes, we double checked that -- two sources there. It is the weekend very soon and we have Indra Petersons here to track the weather for us.

Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: (Inaudible). It is Friday. (Inaudible) the weekend. We got this, guys.


PETERSONS: Yes, we are definitely talking about cool temperatures. You may be feeling a little bit of a bite in the air this morning. Look at the 30s, especially in upstate New York, even going in towards the northeast all the way toward Maine today, 37 degrees. So yes, we have some frost out there. Hard to believe, even some frost warnings currently in upstate New York.

So what does that mean? It's cold in the morning. It's definitely going to be colder in the afternoon. This is all thanks to that cold front that just pushed through.

Look at New York today, about seven degrees below normal. Kind of feels like fall, so some 70s out there, Boston today also looking for 70s. Buffalo actually highs today just into the 60s. I like it. It's a nice little change, I'm enjoying it.

We do want to give you a little bit of an update, though; Gabrielle has dissipated in the Atlantic. You can tell, though, still sending some heavy rain (inaudible) in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as another system behind is trying to develop. Now that's the Atlantic, generally not seeing storms here. But really, out in the Pacific now, we actually have a tropical storm. We have Lorena out there. I don't know how this happens, but it's always the weekend, every time people try and go down towards Cabo, there you go again. Look at the path. We're going to take it right through Cabo, right through Baja. Heavy rain expected there which also means, once again, on the weekend, in the southwest, all that tropical moisture eventually makes its way up right into the Four Corners and we'll have that threat for flash flooding in that region as well.

Broken record for me, but, hey, nice and mild in the Northeast, right?

BERMAN: It's cool outside.

BROWN: (Inaudible) staying here for the weekend.

BERMAN: You walk outside, it feels like football. I know that sounds odd (inaudible).


PETERSONS: If you watch football.

BROWN: It feels like it. I love it.

BERMAN: Take my word for it, it feels like football.

BROWN: And double source that.

BERMAN: So the skies, they were clear for SpaceShip Two. That's the private spacecraft owned by Virgin Galactic. It broke the sound barrier during a test flight over the Mojave Desert climbing some 20,000 feet after being dropped from a carrier plane.

SpaceShip Two is designed to carry up to six passengers when Virgin Galactic plans to start traveling to space -- this is just next year. If you want to go, you can go for the low, low price of $200,000 a seat. BROWN: Actually, that's not as high as I would have thought.

BERMAN: It's more than, say, a subway ride.

BROWN: Yes, just a little more, though. Not that much.

All right. Well, coming up right here on EARLY START:


KELLY SIMS, ATTORNEY FOR SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: She stood by her man, like Tammy Wynette says. And she probably shouldn't have.

BROWN (voice-over): George Zimmerman's wife isn't standing by him anymore, filing for divorce from the man who killed Trayvon Martin.

SGT. EDWIN CABA, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: She has offered so much companionship. Just to see someone excited to see me when we walked back in, her little butt shaking and her tongue out, it was fantastic.

BERMAN (voice-over): Wow, U.S. soldiers reunited with a dog and seven of her puppies they rescued on the battlefields of Afghanistan. I love this story.

BROWN: I do, too.



BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

So he may be one of the most famous or infamous people in Florida these days. And everything George Zimmerman does, it seems, is news. And now Zimmerman could be heading back to court, this time, for divorce proceedings. John Zarrella has more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the nearly two months since George Zimmerman's acquittal for second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the spotlight on Zimmerman has not dimmed.

Late Thursday, Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, filed for divorce, according to her attorney. She broke her silence last week in this interview with ABC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you want him to be in court to support you?

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, WIFE OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I always want my husband's support.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you together? SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: I'm not going answer that. Of course I want to have children and stay married.


SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: That's something I'm going to have to think about.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The interview came after Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying about how much money the couple had for George's bond. She said there was next to nothing. They had raised $135,000 from donations. The plea deal which included a letter of apology to the judge kept her out of jail.

ZIMMERMAN: I accept, Your Honor.

SIMS: She stood by her man, like Tammy Wynette says. And she probably shouldn't have. So that's pretty much it. She did what was right for her.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Since his release from jail, George Zimmerman has been moving fast, literally. And that's kept him in the spotlight, too -- of the law. Pulled over for speeding in Texas in July, and then recently in Orlando.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyway, I stopped you for speed.



ZARRELLA (voice-over): His ticket, $256.

Over time, the spotlight may dim. But for now, the Zimmermans are keeping themselves under it. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


BROWN: Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez could learn today when his trial will begin. Hernandez will be arraigned this morning on murder and weapons charges in state superior court in Massachusetts. He's been held without bail since his arrest back in June in connection with the shooting death of one-time friend Odin Lloyd. Hernandez is expected to plead not guilty to all of the charges.

BERMAN: Will a 30-day sentence for rape stand? A Montana judge has scheduled a hearing today to resentence former teacher Stacy Randall (ph), who was convicted of raping 14-year-old girl. Judge G. Todd Baugh (ph) admits the original sentence he imposed was wrong and now wants Randall to serve at least two years in prison. But the Montana attorney general says the judge actually lacks the authority and is asking the state Supreme Court to block this hearing.

BROWN: The Michael Jackson wrongful death trial could soon be coming to an end. Lawyers for concert promoter AEG Live say they hope to wrap up their defense next week. And that could mean jurors get the case by the end of the month. Jackson's family is suing the promoter, claiming it was responsible for the pop star's death because it hired Dr. Conrad Murray. Murray was convicted two years ago of giving Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic Propofol.

BERMAN: Seems like that trial's been going on forever.

BROWN: Forever.

BERMAN: Chobani yogurt now under a voluntary FDA recall. As we told you yesterday, mold has been found in containers of this yogurt and people have been getting sick after eating it. The FDA says the recall affects 91 varieties of Chobani products. I ate one this morning.

This comes a week after the company told retailers about a quality problem and warned them to pull its Greek style yogurt off the shelves. The company's founder is apologizing now to customers.

I ate mine, though. It was good. It's perfectly good yogurt.

BROWN: (Inaudible) eating our yogurt right now.

BERMAN: I eat it every morning. I eat it every morning.

BROWN: You might want to lay off for awhile.

BERMAN: (Inaudible).

BROWN: All right. Well, a growing number of teenagers are using e- cigarettes. And it has health officials concerned that they may eventually start smoking the real ones. A CDC survey says 10 percent of high school students tried the smokeless electronic cigarettes in 2012, more than the double the 4.7 percent reported the year before. And there's a similar jump for middle school students; 2.7 percent in 2012. That's up from 1.4 percent in 2011.

BERMAN: Pamela and I were talking; we voted this our favorite story of the day, a very sweet reunion for some American heroes and their best friends.

The soldiers gathered at New York's JFK Airport this week to await a special delivery from Afghanistan: a stray dog and her puppies that they were caring for in the war zone.


CABA: I fell in love, you know what. And from the second she was born, we were kind of like, oh, they are cute. And then they started getting their personalities and kind of taking to us very well. You can't leave something like that behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got you here. We said we would.

CABA: I feel fantastic. I haven't seen them in awhile. She's gorgeous. I can't believe that they are here.

BROWN (voice-over): Well, the pups had quite a journey, going from a dog shelter in Kabul to Dubai and finally to the U.S. It's estimated it cost about $4,000 to rescue each of the eight dogs. Just makes you smile, doesn't it?

BERMAN: Lovely pictures. And you know, when you are overseas with these guys and you see them caring for the pets, it's so meaningful, because what they want is just a touch of reality or a touch of something. You want to hold on to something that feels real and special and not just the grim reality of the war there that's in the face. The dogs, they mean so much.


BROWN: It's an outlet for them, right. They are companions. They grow so close to those dogs. It's just a sweet reunion.

BERMAN: Nice to see.

All right.

BROWN: All right. Coming up right here on EARLY START, we are just hours away from a new jobs report that could send stocks soaring. Not what we want to hear this Friday morning. "Money Time" up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START. The song, "Billionaire"?

BROWN: I think so. I think a lot of people (inaudible) eyes are still closed.

BERMAN: Yes, I know, exactly.

But open your eyes. Trust me, it's worth it, because it's "Money Time" and Alison Kosik is here.

Good morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it's a big day. It's jobs day. Jobs report today and it could be a big one for the markets. And a report that could really have an impact on interest rates for everything from mortgages to car loans. A CNNMoney survey says the August jobs report is expected to show the economy added 185,000 jobs last month.

And unemployment rates slipping to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent. The report coming out in about three hours. The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his colleagues, they're really going to be watching these numbers very closely. And if they feel that this jobs number is holding up, they may very well begin trimming back on $85 billion a month of bond buying that's been going on for quite awhile.

The markets have been gradually getting used to the idea of higher interest rates. And in the meantime, the Dow industrials logged their longest winning streak since mid-July. The Dow climbed for the third day in a row on Thursday and the other markets followed. And that includes interest rates. You look at the yield on the key, 10-year Treasury, it hit 3 percent on Thursday. And if you are looking for a home, you are probably noticing mortgage rates have been rising, too. The rate on the 30-year hit 4.57 this week. It seems kind of high historically; it's not, but it is really creeping up.

JPMorgan getting out of the student loan business. Students and families looking to get private student loans won't be able to apply at this company after October 12th. The decision is not going to be affecting existing student loans. JPMorgan says it made the decision based on lending trends with more and more students and families turning directly to the government for loans over the past five years.

A spokeswoman said that private student lending has declined by 75 percent. The head of the Consumer Banker Association warned that JPMorgan's move will mean less competition in the market and limited choices for students.

All righty. As the anticipation builds for next week's new product release from Apple, leaks continue to emerge. Surprise, surprise.

Could this be the long awaited fingerprint sensor analysts have been talking about? This photo from a renowned Apple snooper is allegedly a part for the new fingerprint scanner for the phone, for the iPhone 5s. Whoo, isn't that exciting, that piece right there.

And "The Wall Street Journal" is saying that Apple is already thinking bigger with regard to iPhones down the road. Apple is testing screens as large as six inches. You look at the current iPhone screen. It's four inches. You are seeing the iPhone -- you're seeing Apple kind of trying to catch up to Samsung, which obviously has the bigger screens with its Galaxy. I think it's interesting, because it was Apple that used to take the lead, now it's Samsung, the king of the hill.

BERMAN: Here is my problem. I get paralyzed. I need a new phone.

KOSIK: Paralyzed?

BERMAN: I do, because I need a new phone. I need the new phone, but then I see they are testing a bigger screen. And I'm like, well, should I wait or I get -- I don't know what to do. This is a stressful thing for me.

KOSIK: Yes, I would wait. If you are not desperate for it now, wait to see what comes out. That's an odd...

BERMAN: Yes, but then there's going to be even a bigger screen with another camera in it, bigger, I mean I'm just...

BROWN: It's a vicious cycle. I think you are going to be OK, though.

BERMAN: I still have my flip phone.

KOSIK: Oh, that's bad. You need to change right away then.

BERMAN: All right. I'll get through it. Thanks, guys, for being here for me.

BROWN: Thank you.

And coming up right here on EARLY START, President Obama urging Congress and world leaders that a strike against Syria's government is necessary. Jill Daugherty live in St. Petersburg, where the president is making his case. That's right after this break.




BROWN (voice-over): Crisis in Syria. Congress and world leaders divided over President Obama's plan to attack the government accused of poisoning its people.

BERMAN (voice-over): Plus shocking new video from inside the war zone: Syrian rebels executing their country's soldiers. Could this impact worldwide support for their cause?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm begging you --