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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Making the Case on Syria; Ride Accident Investigation; Japan Gets Summer Games

Aired September 9, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Selling a strike on Syria at home and across the globe. Today the Obama administration presses a returning Congress to authorize an attack while soliciting world leaders for their support as well.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A carnival nightmare. Children plunged to the ground when a popular ride suddenly shuts down.

SAMBOLIN: Dennis Rodman returning from North Korea this morning but not before filling at least one of the communist leader Kim Jong-Un's secrets.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Happy Monday. That's nice and cheery.

Thanks for being with us this morning. It is Monday, September 9th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: She doesn't think I actually mean it. That's the issue here.

SAMBOLIN: No, I don't.

(LAUGHTER)

If you heard him ahead of time, you would believe he didn't mean it either.

BERMAN: Nevertheless, we're going to start right away with the very latest on Syria. It is the beginning of a crucial week. Today the rhetorical battle over whether to bomb Syria takes place really on TV.

President Obama sits down for key interviews. This after he was a surprise guest at a dinner with six Senate Republicans, votes he might very well need to get congressional authorization for an attack. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allowed his first television on American television in years.

But the balance of the power in this debate right now lies with Congress. Back in the capital today to begin a week of deliberations, the outcome far from certain. The latest CNN count shows the Senate equally divided with about half of that body still undecided on giving its OK for a strike. Only 25 senators say they will vote yes right now. The numbers are even more striking in the House. About a third of House members say they definitely plan to vote no. Just 25 tell CNN they will give their OK for military action. The rest undecided.

Clearly the president has a long, long way to go in Congress and in the country to win the support he so badly wants.

Katie Murray has our first report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATIE MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congress is back to work Monday. Expected to top the agenda, debate and votes on a resolution giving President Obama the go ahead to take military action in Syria. Though it's far from certain how events will unfold, what does seem clear is the uphill battle the president faces to convince a divided Congress.

But for once, the divide is not down party lines. Democratic Representative Jim McGovern says Obama should withdraw his request for authorization.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are being told that there's two choices. Do nothing or bomb Syria. Clearly there have to be some other -- other choices in between. We ought to explore them.

MURRAY: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has already passed a re-written authorization measure and the Senate could vote on it as early as Thursday or Friday.

The timeline for activity in the House is more vague but GOP leaders say they will wait for the Senate to act.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, supports Obama's call for military action in Syria, but says the administration has failed to make its case to Congress and the American people.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R) MICHIGAN: This is a confusing mess up to this point and that has been, I think, their biggest challenge on what is an incredibly important issue and this cannot be about Barack Obama. It has to be about what is in the best interests of the United States of America.

MURRAY: President Obama hasn't said whether he would proceed with a strike should Congress vote against his resolution. But White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough says the president has the final say.

DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president ultimately is going to make this decision in consultation with Congress on our timeline as best suits our interest.

MURRAY: I'm Katie Murray reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SAMBOLIN: The administration is also continuing to make its pitch overseas. Secretary of State John Kerry is in London this morning where he just met with Britain's foreign minister. The government there officially supports an air strike but parliament has said it will not authorize British involvement in one.

Kerry met Sunday with Arab League leaders announcing Qatar and Saudi Arabia are backing for an intervention but it's unclear what role those two nations might have in any sort of military action against Assad.

And we're now seeing part of the administration's case against Syria. These images are disturbing. Showing what the White House says is the aftermath of the chemical attack. You can clearly see that people are convulsing amid -- not in that -- not in those particular images. You can see bodies wrapped there.

Secretary Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security adviser Susan Rice are expected to show these images and many more to members of Congress later today.

And coming up in our next half hour, we'll speak to Elise Labott. She is in London about Secretary Kerry's trip to Europe and if he won any more support for a military strike on the Assad regime.

BERMAN: And as we mentioned earlier, we're hearing this morning from Bashar al-Assad himself. This is his first American television interview in nearly two years.

The Syria president telling Charlie Rose of PBS and CBS that his government had nothing to do with the chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that allegedly left more than 1400 people dead. Assad suggests the rebels may have been behind it and he said Syria may retaliate if it is attacked by the West.

BERMAN: But one country apparently not planning to strike back if Syria faces military action is Iran. The country's foreign minister is brushing off reports it has asked militants to go after the U.S. embassy in Baghdad if the U.S. goes after Syria. Telling a state news agency in Iran, the world needs a peaceful diplomatic solution to this crisis.

And where does President Obama stand now? We'll find out a little later today. Wolf Blitzer sits down with the president to talk about the situation in Syria and the effort to win over the votes in Congress to authorize military action. That is coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

And you can stay tuned at 6:30 for the premiere of "CROSSFIRE," where Newt Gingrich, S.E. Cupp, Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter will debate Syria and a lot of other issues of the day. That is tonight at 6:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

BERMAN: A big debut tonight at 6:30.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. BERMAN: Not 6:30 a.m. They don't get up like us.

SAMBOLIN: No. P.M.

BERMAN: 6:30 p.m.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I'm sorry. I --

BERMAN: You did -- no, no.

SAMBOLIN: Or did I say p.m.?

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: You did. I'm just reiterating. They don't get up early.

SAMBOLIN: But it's not at 6:30 in the morning.

BERMAN: No. Exactly.

All right, we want to go to Connecticut right now and some very scary moments for parents and their children. They are supposed to be enjoying a fun day out at a festival but as Pamela Brown reports the fun, it turned awful when a carnival ride malfunctioned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a big bang. And the whole apparatus, the swings came smashing down into the bottom of the swing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked to my left and I saw the swing ride. It collapsed. All these people were there. I actually saw someone fall out of the cart.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This swing ride in Norwalk, Connecticut, became a dangerous terrifying thriller on Sunday when the ride suddenly lost power, sending children to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just injured kids everywhere. The parents ripping out the gate just trying to get to their kids. I mean, it was just -- it was horrible.

BROWN: Sitting in chairs suspended by chains, 13 children were injured, at least two seriously, when the ride malfunctioned. Other rides in Norwalk's annual oyster festival were shut down as a precaution but soon reopened following inspections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Portable rides have a very good safety record and the state of Connecticut, however, they are only inspected once a year.

BROWN: Super Amusement owns the ride and posted this statement to their Web site saying in part the Zoomers swing ride suffered a mechanical malfunction and we are continuing to cooperate with authorities as they investigate into the root cause of the accident. State officials expected the swing ride on Friday, just two days before the incident.

This comes on the heels of a deadly accident in July at a Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, Texas. A woman fell to her death from the popular ride, the Texas Giant. Known for having one of the steepest drops in the world. There are currently no federal agencies enforcing safety regulations on fixed amusement parks like six flags and some experts are calling for a change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because this particular ride in Connecticut was a traveling ride, there will be federal oversight and an amusement ride is an amusement ride and they need to be the same inspection guidelines for amusement rides all across the country.

BROWN: Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Eight minutes past the hour. At least 91 emergency workers who rushed to the Pentagon in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11, are applying for federal compensation and they are also seeking health benefits. Even though there are no studies suggesting those sites were anywhere near as toxic as ground zero in Lower Manhattan, 24,000 fire fighters, police and other emergency personnel in New York have applied for the benefits after developing illnesses.

BERMAN: The United States spent over 60 billion taxpayer dollars from 2003 to 2012 to rebuild Iraq. $60 billion. The job not even done according to Special Inspector General Stewart Bowen. Bowen's report on Iraq reconstruction says the U.S. spent $15 million a day during the nine-year project, but unexpected security costs left the work incomplete.

Bowen warns that an attack on Syria could leave the U.S. with a rebuilding bill there in the tens of billions.

SAMBOLIN: And new allegations this morning against the NSA that it targeted private computer networks at Google, a bank transfer company, and Brazil's state-run oil firm.

Brazil's Global TV says documents leaked by Edward Snowden show the NSA training manual, even includes instructions on how to target those networks. The Obama administration is not denying the claims, saying the intelligence community routinely collects information about terrorist financing.

BERMAN: Dennis Rodman is back on American soil and he is ripping President Obama. This is after returning from another visit to North Korea. The former NBA star told reporters it wasn't his job to ask Kim Jong-Un to release imprisoned American Kenneth Bae. I'm sure that's a relief for Mr. Bae. And it was up to President Obama and Hillary Clinton to secure Bae's release.

Rodman used a vulgar anatomical term to describe the president and the former secretary of state, but he did reveal the name of Kim Jong-Un's baby daughter Ju-Ae and described the North Korean dictator as, quote, "a good dad." SAMBOLIN: All right, let's --

BERMAN: There you go.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. There you go. So let's get a check on the forecast now.

Indra Petersons is here and we're hoping for good news, but I'm looking at like 37 degrees behind you? What is that?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A little chilly, right, in the morning.

SAMBOLIN: A little.

PETERSONS: It feels like fall already and obviously yes.

SAMBOLIN: What do you know.

PETERSONS: We're kind of cool in the afternoon as well. You start off cold, you're going to end up a little bit cooler in the afternoon. But it will change as a warm-up is on the way.

Look at this current. Yes, Boston about 53. I know in New York we're only about 57 and a lot of 30s. So just (INAUDIBLE) -- yes, I mean, 30s.

SAMBOLIN: That's not fall. That's like headed in winter direction, girl.

PETERSONS: Bingo. Exactly what I said. Like what happened here, right? But for you, Zoraida, OK, we're going to be talking about t a nice war-up just as we go through the week.

SAMBOLIN: Nice.

BERMAN: Yes, see?

PETERSONS: It's more like 87. We're going from below normal, 12 to above normal, look at that warm-up, really by Wednesday we're talking about some 90s here in the northeast. So here's what's going on we have the dome of high pressure that's going to be building into the northeast but that means it will be escaping the Midwest. And that is a good thing because those temperatures, if you think we're hot, look at this. What they are expecting today. Des Moines, 21 degrees above normal. Looking for that center mark today.

Minneapolis is at 97 there to also 21 degrees above normal. They need that relief and it will take that high pressure sliding into the northeast for them to see that relief. So kind of like they start off then I get cool, we're cool. And then we're get hot. So flip-flops.

SAMBOLIN: I like the idea of getting hot. Thank you.

PETERSONS: OK. Good for you.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

Go ahead.

BERMAN: OK. (INAUDIBLE) there.

Serena Williams riding high this morning celebrating after picking up her fifth U.S. Open championship, beating Victoria Azarenka. Literally jumping for joy there. It took nearly three hours. Azarenka won the second set.

I have to say the second set was one of the best sets of tennis I have ever seen.

Serena dropped that second set. I thought she was done but she fought back hard in the third. She clinched her second straight U.S. Open title, her 17th grand slam crowd.

SAMBOLIN: Isn't that incredible?

BERMAN: That leaves her one behind Chris Everett and Martina Navratilova. She's 31 now. She's won two grand slams this year.

SAMBOLIN: Almost 32.

BERMAN: I don't know if he's --

SAMBOLIN: That was quite a comeback for her.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: I thought he was done.

SAMBOLIN: Wasn't it? Yes. Unbelievable.

BERMAN: I thought he was done. Because she was complaining about the wind, she had bad body language.

SAMBOLIN: She said, "I can't play with that wind." Yes, you can.

BERMAN: I was kind of thinking like well, you know, the winds kind of affecting as a rank or two. It's not like the wind only affects one side of the court there. But it was amazing. She held on. She won the third set, you know, she's really -- she is incredible.

SAMBOLIN: She is.

BERMAN: I love to see her pick up a few more. Steffi Graf has at 22 grand slams. Margaret Court at 24. That seems far away but she could move up that list.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I like to see that, too.

All right. Twelve minutes past the hour. Coming up a teenage prank that turns into a horrific tragedy in Colorado. How a surprise for a friend ended in bloodshed.

BERMAN: And Olympic victory. Tokyo celebrating a win this morning. When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

It's a really sad story from Colorado now. It's a prank gone horribly wrong. Premila Lal was hiding in a closet Friday night at a home north of Denver. That's a picture of her there. She intended to jump out and scare a family friend, but the friend who was staying in the home was so startled, he grabbed a gun and shot her. And his 18-year- old friend is now dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRAVEEN LAL, FATHER OF PREMILA LAL: She was really good girl. She was very strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. So the family and police are calling this just a tragic accident. The shooter is now facing charges. Police say are unrelated.

A big smile for a Cleveland kidnapping survivor Michelle Knight making her first public appearance since the man of the man who held her for more than a decade. She went to a Cleveland Browns game with her family on Sunday. Not saying anything about Ariel Castro's suicide but beaming for the camera nonetheless.

SAMBOLIN: She looks great, doesn't she?

BERMAN: She does look fantastic. Better than the browns, by the way, who lost.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

BERMAN: 23-10. Just saying.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. So in Japan, there's hope this morning that the power of sport might help pull that country together. After an earthquake and a tsunami and economic stagnation the news Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer games seemed like a ray of light.

Here's Paula Hancocks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tokyo residents rushed to read the news. The greatest sporting event on earth will be back here in 2020.

"We will show the world what Japan is," this young man shouts, "Stay tuned."

"I'm so happy our children will experience the Olympics says this resident. "I'm so excited."

This was the moment Tokyo saw the results of years of planning and hard work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tokyo.

HANCOCKS: There were cheers, tears, and gold ticker tape in Tokyo, not bad for 5:20 on a Sunday morning.

Tokyo had built itself as safe pair of hands in uncertain times. Clearly what the Olympic Committee wanted this time around. And it doesn't hurt when your prime minister is willing to leave a G-20 meeting early to help wave the flag.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (Through Translator): The Olympic movement in Japan will be expanded to the rest of the world. They expected that role to be played by Japan, that's why they supported us. Safe and secure games to be staged by us.

HANCOCKS: Even concerns over radiation spikes and fresh toxic water leaks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant could not derail this bid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was supporting the country's people. I think Tokyo and Japan is very dangerous but I'm Japanese so I just believe.

HANCOCKS: Celebrations played on across the city Sunday, including a human message to the Olympic committee.

(On camera): Not everyone is delighted, though. Some question the wisdom of injecting billions of dollars into Tokyo when the northeastern part of the country ravaged by that tsunami in 2011 still needs rebuilding. After that, the ongoing nuclear crisis and critics say that this money earmarked for the summer games could be far better spent elsewhere.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: You know it's a tough time zone for broadcasters. NBC is going to have to deal with that -- that blip.

SAMBOLIN: I didn't even think of that -- that's true.

BERMAN: It's very interesting.

All right, 19 minutes after the hour. Coming up, a $6 billion markup. Neiman Marcus about to be sold for a lot of money. We'll tell you why the luxury retailer is on the block. Get ready. Money time is next. That means the money time dance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: See that? That's the money time dance.

SAMBOLIN: I like this song.

BERMAN: It is the money time dance, folks. That must be. It is, in fact, money time.

Zain Asher is here. Good morning, Zain.

SAMBOLIN: Sing it. I like this song. Nice job. Picking the song this morning. Thank you, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early morning workout. Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ASHER: Confessions for the market this week. Syria and the Federal Reserve. The Feds are very cautious about what a strike on Syria could mean for world market, especially oil. There is a consent about what the Fed may be thinking after that underwhelming jobs report last Friday. Will signs of weakness be enough to stop the Fed from cutting back its stimulus program later this month?

For now, though, futures are up this morning and despite Friday's volatility the Dow gained 112 points last week. The other major markets followed suit.

Tomorrow Apple will unveiling two possible new iPhones from its headquarters in California. First on the list, the iPhone 5s. It's a faster phone with fingerprint recognition. Next up the iPhone 5c. It's the cheaper version of the iPhone and comes in a plastic case.

Another expected development the release of updated operating software and we also expect some announcement about Apple TV in particular new programming as well.

Also high-end fashion retailer Neiman Marcus may soon have a new owner. Reports say that a private equity group that includes RS Management is in final negotiations to purchase the chain for $6 billion.

The market is currently owned by two other private equity players, TPG and Warburg Pincus. Neiman Marcus owns 75 stores, including Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.

And it's expensive to be a football fan. According to the annual fan cost index, you end up shelling out an average of $209 on game day for two tickets. The most expensive experience, Dallas Cowboys, at $313, the least expensive the Cleveland Browns at $143. The cost includes --

BERMAN: They should be paying you.

(LAUGHTER)

ASHER: The cost includes two tickets, two beers and of course parking. BERMAN: Why just stay home with a six-pack and a TV, you know?

SAMBOLIN: Two tickets, two beers and parking.

ASHER: As I said, very expensive.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. No kidding. And you can't take your family.

BERMAN: No. You eat nachos or a bag of potato chips, some cheese.

ASHER: You could have done it alone, yes.

BERMAN: That was like 12 bucks and a six-pack. All right.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you so much, Zain.

BERMAN: Zain, appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, Secretary of State John Kerry selling a strike on Syria across the globe. This morning, the meeting with leaders in London. We're going to have that live for you coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The American president. The Syrian president. Take to the air waves. The high profile, big media debate over military strikes on Syria.

We are live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a black monster lava. It just -- it just came.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: It's exactly what it is. A monster mudslide. It is wiping out roads out west. Indra Petersons is tracking the storms and she is tracking your Monday forecast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shark came out of nowhere. And grabbed the person's ankle and the foot and just took off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Shark attacks. Not one but two men attacked off the Florida coastline. What swimmers saw in the water.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. That is very scary.

BERMAN: Shallow water, too. Wicked scary.

SAMBOLIN: My gosh.

All right. So welcome back to EARLY START. Glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. About 30 minutes after the hour right now.

SAMBOLIN: So right now we have more on our top story.

The president's fight to win support in Congress for a military strike on Syria. He is taking to the air waves today in order to press his case.