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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Shutdown Day 3; Jury Found No Negligence on Jackson Case; Russian's Activist Hunger Strike Ends; Fight Over the Debt Ceiling

Aired October 3, 2013 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: One thing we made very clear in that meeting, we are locked in tight on Obamacare.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The president reiterated one more tonight that he will not negotiate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They met, they left, they blame. The government shutdown a depressing nutshell. No real progress as this manmade crisis enters day three.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still have to put food on the table. I still got to pay my bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The government shutdown is costing residents across the country, even closing down agencies whose job it is to keep you safe.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're really happy you're with us, aren't we?

BERMAN: We're so happy you're with us. I'm --

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, October 3rd, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: So let's begin with the shutdown. It is now in its 50- second hour. And this morning there's no sign of any break in the stalemate that has left the government closed. Even the latest efforts to find some sort of a solution are being called unproductive by both sides.

Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has the very latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since the government shutdown, congressional leaders met face-to-face with President Obama at the White House Wednesday night. Both sides emerging with no deal and no signs of progress to end the stalemate.

BOEHNER: The president reiterated one more time tonight that he will not negotiate.

REID: We are through playing these little games.

KEILAR: Republicans still demanding President Obama accept a delay to his signature health care program.

BOEHNER: All we're asking for is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Am I exasperated? Absolutely I'm exasperated.

KEILAR: In an interview with CNBC, the president reiterated he won't give in on Obamacare but said he will negotiate on budgetary issues like taxes, spending, entitlement reform, if House Republicans first agree to reopen the government for several weeks.

OBAMA: We have a situation right now where if John Boehner, the speaker of the House, puts a bill on the floor to reopen the government at current funding levels so that we can then negotiate on a real budget that allows us to stop governing from crisis-to-crisis, it would pass.

KEILAR: The president is probably right. But that's not happening any time soon. Instead House Republicans held votes again on funding the government in a piecemeal way. The Senate will surely reject.

Meanwhile, not far from the capital, the World War II Memorial operated by the largely shuttered national park service has become a proxy in this battle. The counter images of World War II vets showing up to the barricaded memorial the RNC offering to pay to keep it open.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Our veterans deserve the freedom to see this memorial and we are willing to pay the bill. Now it's up to the president just to let them in.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: So everyone is feeling the pinch from this. We've talked a lot about the government workers who were being hit by the shutdown but the impact really much more far-reaching. Take Allen Neisler. He manages a sandwich shop near the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Well, most CDC workers have been furloughed and he told Alina Machado they simply are not coming into his shop for lunch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN NEISLER, GENERAL MANAGER, ATLANTA WHICH WICH SANDWICH SHOP: I've actually cut back my staff significantly. Made cuts across the board, which has a great impact because these people really rely on the money. A lot of my staff have young children as well so it's making an immediate impact and it's very significant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The CDC, for its part, is quite worried about the impact of the shutdown on public health. The annual CDC flu program has now been stopped and with its experts off duty officials there worry they may not be able to get ahead of the next major outbreak.

SAMBOLIN: And the federal government shutdown could be a huge opportunity for foreign spy agencies. That is according to the nation's director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

With 70 percent of the CIA and NSA workforce furloughed now, Clapper is telling U.S. senators this is a dreamland of opportunity for adversaries and he says U.S. intelligence operations and counterterrorism efforts are being damaged more and more with each and every day the shutdown wears on.

BERMAN: New revelations this morning about the NSA. According to "The New York Times" the agency conducted a secret pilot program in 2010 and 2011 into tracking the locations of American's cell phones. This worked by tapping the data from cell phone towers. The director of National Intelligence testifying the NSA never moved ahead with that program.

SAMBOLIN: Technical glitches marred the first day of Obamacare and on day apparently there are more issues. Air messages, sluggish performance from the Web sites once again plaguing the sign-up for those new insurance exchanges. The administration, however, is looking to the bright side of things. Blaming the problems on the initial rush. Nearly five million visitors in the first 24 hours. But some of the health care field say they are still not sure who is signing up or what they are signing up for.

BERMAN: The challenging, complicated mission to find, catalog and destroy Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles not being helped by the civil war there. There were intense clashes near Damascus Wednesday just as weapons teams headed out for their first day of work in the country. A second group of inspectors are set to arrive in Syria next week.

SAMBOLIN: And there are new revelations this morning about the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Security cameras now show there may have been as few as four armed gunmen behind that attack. Not the 10 or 15 that the government originally thought. At least 67 people were killed and the Somalia militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

BERMAN: So Vladimir Putin, Nobel Peace Prize winner? The Russian president has been nominated for the Peace Prize for -- in the words of an activist group -- promoting settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet.

Why stop there? Why not go to the galaxy?

That despite his government continuing to sell weapons to Syria. The group behind the nomination says Putin is more deserving than one Peace Prize winner -- that would be President Barack Obama -- because Putin, they say, has steadfastly avoided military intervention overseas.

SAMBOLIN: So it's hot in here, right?

BERMAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: This week I'm an hour earlier now but they don't coming through the air not an hour earlier.

SAMBOLIN: So he is sweating indoors. What can you -- what can you expect from the weather today? Chad Myers with that.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Good morning, everyone, and good evening, Hawaii. Nice weather out there for you today.

Atlanta, Charlotte, morning fog, could some see airport delays. Chicago, a couple of thunderstorms popping up. And in Minneapolis, Cincinnati, the same story, and a slight wind direction issue in Dallas. Not too bad, though.

A big snowstorm is developing for Wyoming and South Dakota. I know. It doesn't seem like we should be talking about that but it's coming. There will be feet of snow in Wyoming. Get to that in a second.

Heavy rain across the Gulf Coast today. A couple of showers and storm. Some of those could have some hail from Chicago back down into central Indiana and Illinois.

Here's the snow event for the next couple of days. Up to 20 inches above 5,000 feet and that's almost everybody out here. Now that's north of Denver, northwest of Denver, and this is Wyoming. Stretching over to parts of Nebraska and also into South Dakota. It's not heading to the south, it's going that way but still snow coming up to the ground and feet of it.

Eighty-three Atlanta, 86 New Orleans, and 90 in Tampa, 87 in Miami for today. There will be some afternoon delays, especially with some Chicago thunderstorms and also Minneapolis, storms as well. Something is developing in the Gulf of Mexico and our Indra Petersons will have that for you in the next hour.

SAMBOLIN: Something is developing in the Gulf of Mexico.

BERMAN: No. Something developing. All right, Indra will tell us about that in the next hour. Meanwhile, I want you to look at something here. Take a very close look at this. What is that?

BERMAN: Big Foot.

BERMAN: Exactly. Could it be Big Foot? A group calling itself the Sasquatch Genome Project says that these are images of the legendary creature shared to reporters by an entrepreneur trying to promote an upcoming documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIAN ERICKSON, ENTREPRENEUR: People have chosen to -- just they don't want to believe it. They can't find it and reminded to believe these things exist.

DR. AMELIA KETCHUM, SASQUATCH GENOME PROJECT: This creature does not follow the general rule. It's very different. We think it is a human hybrid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We think it is a human hybrid. Remember those words, folks. You heard it here first. Of course the Sasquatch Genome Project has had had its, quote, "research debunked several times" but the group is promising to keep up its work trying to prove that Big Foot is real. The truth, folks, is out there.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG BARDEN, JURY SUPERVISOR: Conrad Murray had a license. He graduated from an accredited college. And we felt he was competent to do the job of being a general practitioner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Michael Jackson found responsible for his own death. His concert promoter cleared, after hiring the doctor who gave him a deadly dose of Propofol. The jury, as you could hear there, is explaining. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

It took five months but now a jury has had its say over who is responsible for Michael Jackson's death. Rejecting his mother's claim that a concert promoter was negligent in hiring his doctor.

Here is Miguel Marquez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has the jury reached a verdict?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, the verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful death civil suit sinking in.

KEVIN BOYLE, JACKSON FAMILY LAWYER: We, of course, not happy with the result as it stands now.

MARQUEZ: Jurors speaking out.

KEVIN SMITH, JUROR: Michael Jackson was pretty used to getting his own way.

MARQUEZ: AEG Live may have hired Dr. Conrad Murray but Michael Jackson was responsible for his own care.

SMITH: If anybody said no, well, they were out of the mix and he finds somebody else.

MARQUEZ: Jackson's mother and children sought as much as $2 billion from the concert promoter from what they claim was the company's role in hiring and supervising Dr. Conrad Murray who was convicted in 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guilty of the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

MARQUEZ: For administering a fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic Propofol to the pop star.

BARDEN: It wasn't easy for anyone.

MARQUEZ: The verdict all the more stunning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Question number two.

MARQUEZ: As jurors found Dr. Murray competent when AEG hired him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was Dr. Conrad Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired? Answer, no.

BARDEN: Conrad Murray was hired to be a general practitioner and maybe had the word ethical been in the question, it could have been a different outcome.

MARQUEZ: The jury deliberated a near 13 hours after sitting through five months of testimony and the presentation of thousands of documents.

This much-less publicized trial full of twists and turns including testimony from Jackson's crying Katherine and the mother of Jackson's children Debbie Rowe. The stress of the trial affecting Jackson's daughter Paris, hospitalized and still getting special treatment after a suicide attempt.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Miguel.

Thirteen minutes past the hour. Lawyers for Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev protesting his harsh treatment in prison. In a court filing the attorneys say Tsarnaev is kept in near total isolation. He is banned from praying with other inmates and is out of his cell only to meet with lawyers or for short periods in an outdoor enclosure. Authorities say the restrictions are needed because of Tsarnaev's continued desire to incite.

BERMAN: A suspect is in custody this morning charged with making a false bomb threat that shutdown Jacksonville's international airport. Authorities say 39-year-old Zellco Kosovich told an airport security agent he had a bomb hidden inside his backpack. It all turned out to be a hoax, though, folks. The airport was evacuated for nearly six hours. It was quite a mess. Dozens of flights into and out of Jacksonville were either delayed, diverted or canceled because of that security care.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of confusion for the passengers there as well.

The death of "Glee" star Cory Monteith ruled accidental. A coroner in British Columbia, Canada saying Monteith's death in a Vancouver hotel room that was back in July was due to a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol. The heroin apparently was injected. Authorities found a spoon with the drug residue inside his room along with a used hypodermic needle and they found champagne bottles and glasses inside his room as well. Monteith, as you know, was only 31 years old.

BERMAN: Federal authorities arresting the operator of a Web site known as Silk Road that allegedly gave drug dealers around the world a platform to peddle heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Twenty-nine- year-old Ross Ulbricht, who went by the name Dead Pirate Robbers, was arrested in San Francisco. He is also accused of using the site in connection with murder-for-hire schemes.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

Alex Rodriguez's representatives denying a report that says the Yankee third baseman claims he was duped into taking performance-enhancing drugs provided by Biogenesis believing they were legal supplements. An arbitration panel is currently hearing A-Rod's appeal of his 211- game suspension stemming from Major League Baseball's Biogenesis drug investigation.

BERMAN: More news about heroic athletes. Lance Armstrong's Olympic cycling medal is finally back with the International Olympic Committee. Back in January the disgraced cyclist was stripped of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 summer games in Sydney after he admitted to doping. An Olympic official says the return of Armstrong's medal marks the end of a sad chapter for him.

SAMBOLIN: How do you really feel about all of this?

BERMAN: If you cheat, you've got to pay the piper. And you get caught.

SAMBOLIN: Indeed. Yes. All right. So we're hearing this morning from the family of a punk rocker in prison for an infamous performance. She had been on a hunger strike saying that she is being mistreated and wants to be held someplace else.

Phil Black is live near the prison in the Republic of Mordovia this morning.

Phil, what is her complaint?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she has a long list of complaints about just how horrific conditions are in Russian labor and prison camps here. After consuming only nine -- nine -- consuming only water for the nine days she has suspended her strike but she's said to be in a very serious condition in the prison medical facility behind me but she says she will stop eating again if her demands aren't met.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK (voice-over): Seven-hour drive (INAUDIBLE) Moscow, to get to the prison camp of Mordovia. Convicted criminals are said to fear this place. It is grim. Decaying. Often intimidating. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was sent here a year ago for her part in this famous performance.

The Pussy Riot Punk Prayer in Moscow's main cathedral. A protest song against President Vladimir Putin. Found guilty of hooliganism. The punishment was two years prison. Tolokonnikova has less than six months left on her sentence but on September 23rd she declared the conditions to be intolerable and began a hunger strike.

(On camera): So it's been more than weeks since you've seen her?

PYTOR VERZILOV, TOLOKONNIKOVA'S HUSBAND: Yes. Right now.

BLACK (voice-over): Tolokonnikova's husband said her condition deteriorated sharply when she was moved to a prison hospital facility.

VERZILOV: She has -- she did start getting complications because basically it was her ninth day of the hunger strike.

BLACK: She described life in the camp in an open letter. Sixteen- hour working days, little sleep or food. Violence and cruelty. This video was recorded by human rights activist just two days into the hunger strike. Tolokonnikova says women in the prison are forbidden from maintaining personal hygiene.

(On camera): The scene here, Tolokonnikova's description of life on the other side of the barbed wire. It's all drawn comparisons to the gulags, the notoriously brutal prison camps of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. But prison authorities here denied Tolokonnikova's allegations. They say she's lying.

(Voice-over): Svetlana Bakhmina believes every word because she says she's lived through it, too. Bakhmina was convicted of embezzlement and served three years in a Mordovia prison camp. "It's like torture," she says. "The system between the administration and the convicts is not just based on subordination but humiliation, fear, intimidation, and physical force." Bakhmina says she also went on a hunger strike after the authorities said she could no longer phone her children. She says the physical pressure applied to make her quit was more difficult than the hunger.

Maria Alyokhina, another convicted member of Pussy Riot, went on a hunger strike earlier this year, protesting conditions in a different remote prison camp. She drew attention and won concessions. Now Tolokonnikova hopes she has done the same.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: So Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has three key demands. She wants to be transferred to a different prison. she wants a full criminal investigation into all the allegations she has made and she wants assurances that none of her fellow inmates, those who have helped her, will be punished or pressured in any way. Otherwise, she says she will resume the hunger strike.

Back to you.

SAMBOLIN: Phil, is she scheduled to be released soon? I thought I read maybe in March?

BLACK: Yes, that's right, as early as March. So less than six months away. And so a lot of people have been wondering just why she's chosen to do this now. She had the option of keeping her head down, getting through it, essentially just surviving and enduring the experience. But her husband says she just simply couldn't deal with the injustice any longer.

Not just regarding her, but regard her fellow prisoners as well. Because she says the nature of the punishment that goes on there is often collective. If one prisoner is said to break the rules, a whole group of them are often punished as a result -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Phil Black live for us. Thank you so much. Appreciate that report.

BERMAN: Sounds like quite an ordeal.

SAMBOLIN: It's terrible. And she says she wants to stay there until that criminal investigation is actually under way so see what happens there.

BERMAN: Great.

SAMBOLIN: The government shutdown doesn't look like it's even close to a resolution. But there's another crisis facing Congress. It is fast approaching. Maribel Aber joins us in "Money Time" right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is "Money Time."

SAMBOLIN: It is. And you know, we have this little thing that you do on Twitter. It's the morning rhyme. And so we have a very appropriate one this morning. Disclaimer, I hope no children are up at 4:24 Eastern Time. But if there's a problem with you and me reading this tweet, just contact Berman because he made me do it.

BERMAN: It's my fault.

SAMBOLIN: So here it is. It has #dearcongress. "Why are you jackholes wasting time and doing it all on American's dime?"

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: My dime, that is a great rhyme. That's what I want you to focus on right there.

SAMBOLIN: And Maribel, you have to answer. What's going on?

MARIBEL ABER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I do. What's going on? And how apropos that tweet is.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ABER: So let's get to it. You know what, are you ready for the next crisis in Congress? Because that's what's happening. That's what we're getting close to. We aren't even close to settling this budget fiasco that we have and the debt ceiling deadline is right around the corner. So if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling by October 17th, OK, the Treasury Department won't be able to borrow and we'll have only really two sources of money to pay those bills.

Those are the estimated $30 billion in cash on hand plus whatever daily revenue that comes in and we haven't seen any signs that Congress can agree on anything, so stand by. That clock is ticking. And it seems like, you know, summer just ended and we're talking about the holidays. P.S., I've already started my Christmas cards.

BERMAN: Yes.

ABER: The National Retail Federation says it expects sales in the months of November and December to increase by about 4 percent so that's about a half percent better than last year and higher than the 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent, but the NRF says holiday sales could be affected by what Congress does, of course, or what it doesn't do in the next 45 days.

BERMAN: Right. Explode the economy with the debt ceiling, Christmas shopping, you know, who knows?

ABER: All over. Who knows. It could be a big dent obviously there, right? I do have some positive news I do want to leave you guys with. Starbucks will now be starting to sell its Braille gift cards year- round. So the card was introduced back in September 2011.

SAMBOLIN: I didn't even know that.

ABER: Yes. It was previously only available in limited runs during October. This is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Starbucks said -- it was asked to offer the card year-round by a mother who said her blind daughter appreciates the independence the card gives her. So the Braille card will now be part of the chain's permanent gift card lineup.

And one other piece of news here. Actually next week is National Braille Week. So there you go.

SAMBOLIN: How wonderful. I love ending on positive news. Can you do that every day for us?

ABER: I'm going to try.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Have you really started writing your Christmas cards?

ABER: I have. I really have.

SAMBOLIN: Goodness gracious, girl.

ABER: Look at my Facebook. Look at my tweets. I'm already 80 gifts has been wrapped. Done.

BERMAN: You have issued. But thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I want to follow in her footsteps.

All right. Coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they don't make this budget and get it together, we're the ones who are going to suffer and our children are going to be the ones who are going to -- you know, be without.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So this may make you really mad. The government shutdown shutting down classrooms for those who need it the most. The effects being felt across the country. Coming up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: We have asked them to go to conference. To sit down and try to resolve our differences. They don't want to -- they will not negotiate.

REID: I said, fine, we'll go to conference. All we want you to do is open the government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Who will blink? Gridlock governs in Washington as day three of the government shutdown begins.

BERMAN: In a blink, we'll poke their eyes out.

Eight people dead after their church bus crashes on the freeway.

SAMBOLIN: Horrible.

(END)