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Countdown to Shutdown; The Impact of Obamacare; Severe Weather Hits Oregon; Israel Reacts to U.S.-Iran Talks; A-Rod Fighting Suspension

Aired September 30, 2013 - 04:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Countdown to shutdown. The U.S. government just hours now from shutting down. Congress, not really doing anything. As both political parties wait to see who will blink first.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: A record setting storm, it is slamming the northwest. Roads are flooded. Trees are knocked down and thousands are left in the dark.

BERMAN: You have to check this out. Dozens of tourists jumping in the water when their boat suddenly erupts in flames. This is not the first time this has happened. A recurring issue. Tell you all about it.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. Yes, I'd be jumping, too.

Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. Are we calling it early, early? Is that the --


SAMBOLIN: Wicked EARLY START this morning. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, September 30th, and it is 4:00 a.m.


BERMAN: 4:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: You're not seeing things.

BERMAN: And we're here.

SAMBOLIN: Rub those eyes. Yes.

BERMAN: We're thrilled to see you. And we're thrilled to be here. That's -- yes.



BERMAN: That's our story. We're sticking to it. SAMBOLIN: All right. So listen, we're going to begin with the showdown over the shutdown. And the clock, of course, ticking on the federal government running out of money. We are just 20 hours away from a government shutdown. That's at midnight tonight. The Republican-led House voted Sunday to tie government funding to a one- year delay of Obamacare. So today the Senate will meet to take up that measure.

And as senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar reports, Democrats there have no plans of letting it through.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the old football strategy.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Republicans rallied on the steps of the Capitol calling on the Senate to come back to work. Inside, a ghost town. Not long after the house GOP passed a bill in the early morning hours Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

KEILAR: It funds the government, but delays Obamacare for one year. Now just hours to go before a deadline for a deal, the first government shutdown in 17 years seems all but certain. The blame game in full swing with Republicans on preemptive damage control.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: So far, Majority Leader Harry Reid has essentially told House o Representatives and the American people go jump in the lake.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: He is saying 100 percent of Obamacare of the highway. The president is the one saying, I will shut down government if you don't give me everything I want on Obamacare.

KEILAR: They argued they budged. Demanding the president's healthcare program be delayed after initially voting to defund it altogether but Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid won't put this latest House passed bill up for a vote and President Obama, who met Sunday afternoon with his economic team at the White House, has threatened to veto of any measure that delays or defunds Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me repeat it. That's not going to happen.

KEILAR: The Senate is expected to strip out the Obamacare delay today and send it right back to the House. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking toward midnight when a government shutdown would close national parks, furlough hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and stall new passport applications.

There was one area of possible agreement, however, a repeal of a tax on medical devices that was included in the bill Republicans passed this weekend. A top Democrat said he was open to the measure, but not with a shutdown looming. SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I'm willing to look at that, but not with a gun to my head, not with the prospect of shutting down the government.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, the White House.


BERMAN: You might reasonably be asking right now what does this all mean for me.


BERMAN: What's going to happen with just hours to go before the government runs out of money? This is what will still be running and what will not be. Mail will still be delivered. FBI, DEA and other law enforcement, those still be working. As will the military. They'll get IOUs probably instead of paychecks which kind of stinks.

Most federal courts will remain open. Also don't forget to pay your taxes. The IRS is still collecting.


Now what will not be open. Do not try to go to a national park. No dice there. Federal museums closed, most of them. Passports will not be processed and furloughs will hit nonessential government works. They're going to be told to stay at home. Hundreds of thousands of them. And if you have applied for a government loan, funding your small business or home purchase, that will be put on hold.

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible. And all of those people who protect us in the military who are not going to get paid.


SAMBOLIN: That's incredible. Just incredible.

All right. Four minutes past the hour here, and for most American, the very idea of a shutdown just points again to how bad things have gotten in Washington. Those we talked to across the country said over and over again, it is time to work out the differences and come to some sort of an agreement.

And there was anger that our men and women in uniform as we were just talking about especially them that they would get paid only with an IOU.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is going to be bills that are going to be due. And those places like, you can't just tell the electric department, hey, you know, I got an IOU.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I ran my house the way the government is running the country, I would be in bankrupt. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've made your point. Let's get on with the business of running the country and pass the budget, pass the debt limits, and let us keep improving the economy but don't play games any more, please.


BERMAN: Big part of this whole discussion is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Today another milestone approaches in that. The new federally run insurance marketplaces, they will launch tomorrow and along with millions of individuals many small businesses are getting ready to make some choices about coverage for their workers.

Our Margaret Conley has that.


ZANE TANKEL, APPLEBEE'S: That's a virtual reality walk.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zane Tankel, owner of all New York area Applebee's restaurants sparked controversy last year when he threatened to stop hiring because of Affordable Care Act cost.

TANKEL: We won't build more restaurants. We won't hire more people.

CONLEY: A year later from his newest restaurant in East Harlem.

TANKEL: This wall is all living.

CONLEY: Zane says he'll find a way to continue with business and his best people are his full-time people.

TANKEL: Am I going to penalize my best people because the president has put into place something that penalizes me? No, I've got too much at stake.

CONLEY: These crucial decisions facing business owners like Zane have dire economic consequences. Or, as John Goodman from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

JOHN GOODMAN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS: Small businesses are forced to provide a very expensive package of health benefits for their employees and the new law gives them no additional help. There is no subsidy.

CONLEY: Cost is the single biggest concern for companies according to human resources consultant Julie Stone.

(On camera): What kind of impact does that going to have on this country?

JULIE STONE, CONSULTANT, TOWERS WATSON: I think it has seismic proportions long term for our country. It's going to change the fabric of who we are and how we go about our daily lives ultimately. CONLEY: For Zane he's taking each phase of reform at a time.

TANKEL: I don't think it's going to be so terrible. I think that people are not going opt at least for this first year for 10 percent of their gross income going to Obamacare.

CONLEY: Margaret Conley, CNN, New York.


SAMBOLIN: Seven minutes past the hour and this morning there are new revelations about questionable conduct at the NSA. According to "The New York Times" the agency has been using its enormous collection of phone and e-mail data to track the social connections of U.S. citizens, with the ability to even to determine their whereabouts and who they are traveling with.

That report based on documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden says the agency have been conducting these operations since 2010.

BERMAN: Other news right now, two states not waiting for Washington to begin slashing the federal food stamp program. Kansas and Oklahoma, they're moving ahead with their own plans to require healthy adults with no dependents to work at least 20 hours a week in order to get their benefits. That could lead thousands of people without subsidies for food if they cannot find a job. Right now 1 out of every 7 Americans receives food stamps.

SAMBOLIN: And John, thousands of customers in the Portland, Oregon, area still without power this morning after severe weekend weather there. Two storm fronts hit, one on Saturday, the other one on Sunday. That dropped heavy rain and blowing trees and debris right into the homes.


MARIE LETHNER, FLOOD VICTIM: I heard this noise and I come in, look. And I went, oh, goodness.


SAMBOLIN: All right. So she got OK but a falling tree crushed part of her roof and damaged her home.

Some areas got nearly five inches of rain and reported wind gusts above 75 miles an hour. Try walking in that.

BERMAN: Now Indra Petersons is sleeping in. But she'll be in an hour --

SAMBOLIN: No, she's not. I just saw her working so she is tracking all of this and getting ready with those graphs and stuff for you.

BERMAN: But not for another hour. She'll be here in about hour.

All right. Eight minutes after the hour right now. It is being called the most dangerous mission in the history of disarmament. A team of 20 international engineers, paramedics and chemists preparing to leave the Netherlands for Syria today. Their mission, of course, to dismantle one of the largest arsenals of chemical weapons in the world. An estimated 1,000 tons of nerve gas agents like sarin and sulfur muster all in the middle of a bloody civil war. These weapons inspectors arrive in Damascus tomorrow.

SAMBOLIN: A massive car bomb rips through a market in northwestern Pakistan killing at least 40 people, including 18 people from one family. The car reportedly carrying close to 500 pounds of explosives and that blast left behind a huge crater. It destroyed at least 10 shops and some vehicles.

You are looking at the destruction there. It's unbelievable. Hospital official says he expects the death toll to rise because most of the 100 people wounded are critically injured.

BERMAN: The rescue operation that collapsed a four-story building in Mumbai has now been called off. The final death toll, 60 lives lost. The disaster response official says everyone that was thought to be inside has been accounted for. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation. More than 100 people have been killed in five building collapses in Mumbai between April and June of this year.

SAMBOLIN: A wild scene in the waters off of London. Twenty-eight passengers and the crew had to be rescued when their duck tour boat caught fire in the River Thames. You can see many of them had to jump into the water just outside the Houses of Parliament.

Oh, my goodness. One passenger was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Duck tours will be running on land only this week in London while an investigation is under way there.

Can you imagine?

BERMAN: Yes. Not the kind of boat ride. Yes.

SAMBOLIN: In the middle of enjoying a tour? No.

BERMAN: Not the swim you wanted, no doubt. They are all OK. That's the good news. Of course everyone remembers in Philadelphia a few years ago here, that awful duck boat accident where several people were killed.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible.

BERMAN: These things can be dangerous.


Coming up, President Obama taking big strides building a relationship with Iran but today he'll face a tough talk from one key U.S. ally who isn't happy about it.



BERMAN: And a new warning about a silent killer lurking in the waters of Florida.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. The U.S. government spent a lot of time last week mending fences with Iran. President Obama even held a phone call Friday with Iran's newly elected president. That is the first time the two leaders from the two countries have spoken since 1979.

However, not everyone is so happy about this. One of the people not happy about it, the prime minister of Israel. He of course is heading to Washington today. He will talk to President Obama about it face- to-face.

Jim Clancy in Jerusalem with that story.

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Israel worries the warmth that broke the ice between Iran and the U.S. is going to heat up Iran's determination to advance its nuclear program. As left with the U.S. and his meeting with Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this. "I will tell the truth from the fact of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles. One must talk facts, and one must tell the truth."

The prime minister wants to remind everyone that while President Rouhani was smiling in New York, the centrifuges were still spinning back home in Iran. He will compare Iran to North Korea which developed a bomb while talking peace. He will reveal new intelligence data the Israelis have gathers and he will try to make the case that as state -- as a state that sponsors terrorism, Iran cannot be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Netanyahu is sure to want the U.S. to push for specific deadlines. But Israel fears most of course is a partial deal, one that would lift sanctions but leave parts of Iran's nuclear program intact. His talks Monday with the president will certainly undermine fears that Iran will use the negotiations to stall for time.

The upcoming talks between Washington and Tehran mean Israel may not even have the option of going it alone, trying to destroy Iran's nuclear ambitions with a military strike. Little wonder hardliners here like Avigdor Lieberman are describing Rouhani's (INAUDIBLE) as an appeasement attack.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Jerusalem.

SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Jim.

The retrial of Amanda Knox begins today in Italy. Only this time it is without Amanda Knox. The Seattle native will not return to stand trial once again in the 2007 slaying of her roommate. Knox served four years for the crime before being acquitted in 2011. But earlier this year Italy's highest court overturned that citing inconsistencies. If convicted once again, Knox could be ordered back to Italy to serve more time.

BERMAN: New details now in the Aaron Hernandez murder case. Three more people were indicted this weekend including the fiancee and the cousin of the former NFL star. Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the execution-style shooting of a Boston man. He's been in prison since late June. Now investigators are focusing on what he and others may have done to help cover up their alleged parts of the murder.

SAMBOLIN: A deadly and long running family feud in central Pennsylvania. This is just a crazy story. Police say Josephine Ruckinger and her husband Jeffrey showed up at a home in rural Ashfield, that's near State College. And planned to murder all of the people inside. Her estranged parents and her brother.

Her mother Roberta answered the door to find her daughter pointing a shotgun at her. The mother was shot at point blank range, she was killed. Her brother, John Jr., was shot multiple times in the chest, he also died. So that's when her father grabbed the gun and killed the home invaders.


TROOPER JOHN WATCHIK JR., PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Roberta answered the door. We believe that she cried out something to the effect of, "Oh, my god, they have guns." At this time, gunfire erupted.

But we are led to believe at this point, he had no idea that that was his daughter until after the fact.


SAMBOLIN: Wow. Well, investigators are still trying to figure out a motive but they say what happened at the home was a preplanned murder plot. Josephine Ruckinger had been essentially disowned years ago.

BERMAN: Shocking story right now from Florida where a 59-year-old man is dead. Apparently from a very rare infection. His family says Butch Kunitski was fishing for crab in the Halifax River in Volusia County when a wound on his ankle became infected. They thought it was just a spider bite but some kind of killer bacteria got into the wound and this man was dead within hours.


STACK: It's horrifying. It's just horrifying. They did everything. They tried multiple antibiotics. But --


STACK: Nothing was touching it. Nothing even fazed it. If that's dangerous for people to be in it should be at least posted. You know, we were tempted to make our own signs and go down there and post them on the trees.


BERMAN: So far there have been 20 cases of that bacteria reported in the state. Nine of them have been fatal and one was near the same spot where that poor man died. Authorities say you should protect yourself if you're going into warm seawater near shell fish.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Don't go with any open wounds, right?

BERMAN: Seems like a good idea.


All right. No evidence of any wrongdoing in that horrific Arizona wildfire that killed 19 elite firefighters in June. That's according to a new report released this past weekend. The Arnell Hill disaster marked the worst loss of life in a U.S. wildfire since 1933. The 116- page report detailed how the team was suddenly engulfed in flames and found that both the firefighters and managers acted according to policy, but the report also outlined an unexplained 30-minute gap in radio communications right before the firefighters were killed.

BERMAN: A really fascinating new report, disturbing to some, on children's access to guns. According to "The New York Times," accidental child gun deaths occur twice as often as publicly reported. This was a fascinating article that came out over the weekend.

The discrepancy in the record keeping comes in the way deaths are classified may list it as homicides when they aren't necessarily what we think of as traditional homicides. They study looked at just a handful of states where records are available. The heartbreaking cases which are typically kids shot by other kids are all the more troubling because many people think they are largely preventable.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty minutes past the hour.

An early gift for military families from Delaware. Troops from the Delaware National Guard returned early from Afghanistan. They served in the 153rd Military Police Company. And as you can see, thousands were on hand to help welcome them, including the vice president's wife Jill Biden.

BERMAN: Welcome home to them.

SAMBOLIN: Isn't that great? And thank you.

All right. Coming up, Alex Rodriguez facing the fight of his life as an arbitrator decides whether his extreme punishment for doping was unfair.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Twenty-three minutes past the hour. You want some good news?


SAMBOLIN: I don't have any.


BERMAN: Tough.

SAMBOLIN: I know. Just how hard is it to achieve the American dream, folks? For many Americans a new poll find opportunities are harder to come by. Light that as a newsflash. Right?

The "Washington Post"/Miller Center poll shows just 4 in 10 Americans believe their children will live a better life than they did. Most say they don't expect to get a significant raise at work or find a better job that pays more money. And nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say it is harder now to find good jobs and get ahead financially.

BERMAN: One guy who managed to get a good job and save $30 million a year, Alex Rodriguez.

SAMBOLIN: I think so.

BERMAN: Of course he admitted to doping at least once, now people say he did it again and again. And today he goes before an arbitrator arguing that he does not deserve a record suspension that he received for doping.

Here is Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Rodriguez says he has something to prove and not just on the field. His 211-game suspension, baseball's longest doping punishment, still very much in play, still a sore spot with fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspend him. I say fire him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he should not be suspended.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK YANKEES: The last seven months has been a nightmare.

CARROLL: Arbitrator Frederick Horowitz will hear both sides.

Rodriguez claims Major League Baseball used unethical practices to target him because he was overpaid and underperformed, and Major League Baseball's claim, Rodriguez took PEDs, performance-enhancing drugs and human growth hormone.

MLB's case centers on this man, Anthony Bosch, founder of the now defunct anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. Is Bosch prepared to testify Monday that he gave Rodriguez PEDs? If so it would be a different account of what he told ESPN last April.

ANTHONY BOSCH, BIOGENESIS: I'm a nutritionist. I don't know anything about performance enhancing drugs.

CARROLL: That was then. One of Bosch's former friends, Bobby Miller, suspects why Bosch may have now changed his story.

BOBBY MILLER, BOSCH'S FORMER FRIEND: Pay him $5 million that they paid him.

CARROLL (on camera): Who is that?

MILLER: Major League Baseball.

CARROLL (voice-over): Bosch's spokeswoman says he is cooperating with Major League Baseball but is not being compensated by the organization. MLB would not comment. Bosch has not spoken to the press since that interview last April.

We tried tracking Bosch down at a hotel in Coconut Grove, Miami. No luck approaching a car connected to Bosch either.

(On camera): Can we have any sort of comment at all from Mr. Bosch? Yes. This is from CNN.

(Voice-over): Bosch's spokeswoman says he looks forward to testifying in arbitration. Rodriguez in a fight to save his legacy.

STEVE EDER, SPORTS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: It's a big moment for baseball. It's a big moment for Alex Rodriguez, for Yankees fans. And, you know, there will be a lot of and arbitration fans.

CARROLL: A high stakes game. Reputation of one of baseball's greatest hanging in the balance.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Miami.


BERMAN: Do you know when the Yankees' next game is?


BERMAN: April.


BERMAN: They're done. Not in the playoffs, in case you didn't know.

SAMBOLIN: Who is in the playoffs?

BERMAN: The Boston Red Sox. They had the best record in baseball this year. Congratulations to you, Red Sox. But we have a really exciting three-game playoff in the -- for the wildcard in the American League. Three teams vying for two spots, Texas and Cleveland, and Tampa. So over the next three days, that will be huge.

SAMBOLIN: I said that Berman should start doing sports. What do you all think? BERMAN: I got a job, I think.


Here doing news for now so we'll hold off on the sports.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

Coming up, dozens are still missing this morning. More than one week now after a mall massacre in Kenya. The hunt for the gunmen, it is still continuing at this hour. David McKenzie is live in Nairobi with all the latest developments for us and that's headed your way right after the break.