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Debt Ceiling Deadline Nears; U.S. and Afghan Deal on Troops; Was It Suicide?; Dramatic Flood Rescue in Texas

Aired October 14, 2013 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Really, stay tuned for that one. It is pretty remarkable.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Glad you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, October 14th, 5:00 in the East.

SAMBOLIN: And this morning, Washington is waking up one day closer what could be a monumental deadline. The debt ceiling is set to be hit on Thursday and there's still no solution yet to raising it or ending this government shutdown. Talks are ongoing between the leaders of the Senate, but similar talks between the White House and House Republicans collapsed and the two men now trying to solve this are known to not exactly be on the same page.

Here is senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the clock ticking down to debt ceiling day, it's come down to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have started horse trading over the deal to reopen the government and avoid a default.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I've had a discussion with the Republican leader this afternoon. Our discussions were substantive and will continue those discussions.

ACOSTA: The question is whether they can get there in time.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Both leaders realize how difficult default would be, the devastation it would cause to America.

ACOSTA: But talks over the weekend appeared to stumble again as Republicans accused Reid of overreaching, by seeking additional concessions from Republicans over those forced budget cuts in the sequester.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Now is the time to be magnanimous and sit down and get this thing done.

ACOSTA: The White House said President Obama was standing firm with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, that there must be clean bills to extend the debt ceiling and end the shutdown with no strings attached. Tensions are boiling over.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This is the people's memorial.

ACOSTA: Texas Senator Ted Cruz led a protest over the closing of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, that drew this verbal attack on the president.

LARRY KLAYMAN, FOUNDER, FREEDOM WATCH: I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience and demand that this president leave town to get up, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees and to figuratively come up with his hands out.


ACOSTA: Veterans and Tea Party activists ground monument barricades and dumped them in front of the White House, before a rowdy face-off with park police in riot gear. One man waved the Confederate flag. Others called for impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They gave them back to President Obama by piling them in front of his house -- our house, I'm sorry, in front of our house.

ACOSTA: While another Tea Party-backed senator was calling for compromise.

PAUL: I think it's not a good idea to go through the debt ceiling deadline. I think we should go ahead and have an agreement in advance.

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


BERMAN: A deal apparently close between Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to allow American troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014. The only stumbling block right now seems to be Karzai's opposition to giving the U.S. jurisdiction over its own troops allowing immunity from Afghan law. Now, it's up to political and tribal leaders of the Afghan parliament to give their approval.

SAMBOLIN: In Iraq, the number of suicide bombings blamed on al Qaeda is rising. This past weekend at least 42 people were killed in a new wave of attacks, mostly in Shiite majority cities. The terror group has come back in full force since the U.S. troops left in 2011. The death toll from these bombings is said to be at its highest level in five years.

BERMAN: It's shame to see the people there, they suffer so much for so long.

Iran's nuclear program will be center staged at talk set to begin tomorrow in Geneva. And now, Iran's deputy foreign minister says his team will offer a three-step plan aimed at showing the world that his country's nuclear program has only peaceful goals. He did not release any details of the plan but says it will assure the West that Iran is not trying to build atomic weapons.

SAMBOLIN: Israeli officials say they found another tunnel running under their border with Gaza, a tunnel they say could be used for a potential terrorist attack. The Israeli military also says this one is about a mile long, 60 feet deep and likely about a year old. It is a third such tunnel to be discovered this year. Israel has now suspended its shipments of building materials to the private sector in Gaza, saying the construction materials are being used to build tunnels like these.

BERMAN: In Egypt now. An American man is dead. But questions remain after James Lunn was found hanging in a police station weeks after -- he'd been arrested weeks after a car bombing. Now, an investigation is underway. Was it suicide that ended his life?

Our Ben Wedeman is in Cairo this morning live.

Ben, what do we know about this man, James Lunn, and what's the status of the investigation into his somewhat mysterious death?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.S. embassy officials here in Cairo tell use that they believe it was an apparent suicide. Now, he was picked up by the Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai in late August in the aftermath of a car bombing there. Now, according to Egyptian security forces, they found in his possession a computer and what they called maps of vital installations.

Now, given somewhat charged atmosphere here in Cairo and in Egypt at the moment, they probably suspect he was a spy. Now, he was detained for 30 days and then his detention was extended for another 30 days. Now, during this time, in fact, just last Tuesday, American consular officials were allowed to visit Mr. Lunn in his prison cell in Ismailia, which is a city on the Suez Canal. And, apparently, he did not complain of any mistreatment.

Now, the public prosecutor in Ismailia has called for an autopsy and an investigation into the cause of his death -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Ben Wedeman. There will be questions now being raised in Egypt over the death of an American prisoner. Appreciate it, Ben.

SAMBOLIN: And to Texas now, and a dramatic rescue. A pregnant woman stranded in her car as floodwaters are rising around her. Pounding rains hammered the Austin area over the weekend and Holly Whitmore, six months pregnant, was nearly trapped when firefighters spotted her car just in time.


HOLLY WHITMORE, PREGNANT WOMAN RESCUED IN FLOOD: I tried to get out of my car. My door wouldn't open. So, my window rolled down and he came over to help me and I just crawled out my window and walked out.


SAMBOLIN: Responders made several high water rescues on Sunday and there could be more on the way. Flash flood warnings are in effect through tonight. Be careful, folks!

BERMEN: Be careful.

What else is in store for the weather today?

Karen Maginnis has a check of the forecast.

Good morning, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John, and to you, Zoraida.

We've got lots of wet weather still planned across Texas so not easing up any time soon. They are taking the brunt of the severe weather for the afternoon. This is a long radar loop. We go back from Sunday into present time, and from the Hill Country extending on over towards the coast, the rain has been relentless. Now, I will mention they have been in moderate to severe drought. But they don't need the rainfall all at once because you can see, it has devastating effects.

Austin, Texas, one of the reporting places there saw over 12 inches of rainfall. That's not a storm total. That's just from yesterday. Austin typically for the entire month would see something less than 4 inches. So, we've already seen four times their normal average for the month.

In this region, typically speaking, three to five are some of the common amounts, but where you see in Crystal City, extending northward towards San Antonio, some places saw over 10 inches of rainfall. Flash flood watches and warnings out across a good portion of the state but we have to talk about the snowfall. Now, when I come back in a few minutes, we'll let you know where that snow is expected -- Zoraida.

BERMAN: Just major -- 12 inches in one storm?

SAMBOLIN: That is incredible.

BERMAN: And now snow.

Thanks for that, Karen. Appreciate it.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Eight minutes past the hour.

This is an amazing story of survival and it hails from California where a man named Gene Penaflor (ph) is lucky to be alive. This man is 72 years old. He was out hunting with a friend in the Mendocino National Forest in late September. He was separated from his friend and initial search turned up absolutely nothing.

Flash forward to this weekend. Hunters hear someone calling for help. It's Penaflor, hurt, but alive. But how did he make it through more than two weeks in the woods?


JEREMY PENAFLOR, LOST MAN'S SON: He ate squirrels, whichever he can catch. He ate lizards. He ate a couple of frogs. He snakes and survival mode kicked in. When you have no food for 18 days, whatever protein you can get, he did.


SAMBOLIN: As for keeping warm, Penaflor used leaves and garbage bags. And his son also says the next time his father takes a trip like this, he is tagging along just to be safe.

BERMAN: It sounds like he's pretty resourceful. My goodness!

SAMBOLIN: No kidding. Look how great he looks, too. Seventy-two years old, thumb's up.

BERMAN: Speaking about thumb's up, I just have to tell you -- two of the biggest comebacks we have ever seen in sports and they both happened in the greater Boston area. It was heaven last night.

That is Tom Brady throwing an interception here with just a little over a little two minutes left in the game last night. Looked like the Patriots were done. Look like they were completely over. But, no, a last minute drive down the field, pass to Kenbrell Thompkins in the end zone wins the game for the Patriots with just five seconds left! Brady perfect.

Kenbrell Thompkins, by the way, is an undrafted rookie free agent. The Patriots go on to win that game, improbably, but fantastically.

But then, a few hours later, not over. The ALCS, the Red Sox battling the Tigers. That was David Ortiz. Sox down 5-1 before David Ortiz hits a grand slam into the bull pen. You see Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the ninth inning with a walk-off single. There is Jonny Gomes heading around home and Jarrod Saltalamacchia swarmed by the rest of the team.

Two comebacks, less than four hours apart. Boston euphoric this morning. Boston strong.

SAMBOLIN: Not to mention John Berman euphoric this morning. Are you OK?


SAMBOLIN: Did you get it out yet or still more to come?

BERMAN: I'm getting there. That was pretty dramatic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've always had hope. As parents, we won't believe Madeleine is dead until we see clear evidence that that is the case.


SAMBOLIN: There is new evidence in the search of a 3-year-old girl. She's been missing for years. Could this man hold critical information about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounded like a bomb went off.


BERMAN: Suddenly a home explodes inside a Pennsylvania neighborhood. What was found nearby? It might surprise you.

SAMBOLIN: And, folks, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse, #earlystart and #morningrhyme. We're going to read the best ones on the air in our next half hour.

Wake up and join us with these morning rhymes. Berman is doing all the work.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

This morning, there are new details in the case of a preschooler missing for years. Three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing at a family trip in Portugal in 2007. Her story really captivated the world. Now, with few signs what happened to her, police in Britain are releasing what's being called the most detailed reconstruction of the case yet.

Erin McLaughlin has the latest from London. She's outside Scotland Yard.

Erin, what exactly does this reconstruction show?


Well, this reconstruction is a collaboration between Scotland Yard and a local crime watch program that is said to be around 25 minute in length so it's pretty detailed. It even includes a local actress, a 3-year-old actress to play the role of Madeleine McCann and set to be broadcast here in the United Kingdom later tonight and then again in the Netherlands and Germany.

Now, police have also released two computer sketches or e-fits as they're called here, of an individual they believe was in the area at the time Madeleine McCann disappeared.

Witnesses describe this individual as a white male between 20 to 40 years of age, of medium build with short brown hair. Now, police say that later tonight, they plan to release other sketches of other individuals, people that they would like to talk to.


ANDY REDWOOD, CHIEF INSPECTOR, METROPOLITAN POLICE: These fits are clear and I ask the public to look very carefully at them and if they know who this person is, please come forward.


MCLAUGHLIN: Now, this push for information from the public is part of an exhaustive investigation that has spanned some 30 countries. Police have interviewed over 400 witnesses. They sifted through thousands of documents and cell phone records and they now have this picture, a better picture they say of what they think happened that night. They are now appealing to the public for more information to be able to solve this mystery -- John.

BERMAN: They have a better picture, Erin, but still, this is as an enormous new effort six years after the fact. Does it indicate to you that they feel any closer to actually solving this crime or at least figuring out what happened?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, John, this is clearly a process, a stage in the investigation. They are asking the public for more information. So, clearly, they need more to figure out what happened to Madeleine, as you said, six years ago. I spoke to one former commander at Scotland Yard who told me that the fact that it has been six years, that could have affected the quality of these computer-generated sketches because they are based on witness accounts.

But the parents of Madeleine McCann say they are hopeful their little girl will be found alive -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much, Erin McLaughlin. We all hope she will be found all of this time later. Erin McLaughlin in London for us -- appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Unique celebration in Mississippi this weekend. More than 3,000 bras spawned the Moss Point Bridge for breast cancer awareness event. Hundreds braved an unseasonably warm day to take part. They came out to honor lost loved ones and to celebrate those that are still battling this disease, and most of all, to raise awareness about early detection.


TRUDI MULLINS, ORGANIZER, "BRAS ACROSS THE RIVER": Research says early detection saves lives. The only way to get that is starting a conversation and to be honest with you nothing starts a conversation kind of like a mile worth of bras.


BERMAN: A mile worth of bras!

SAMBOLIN: That is true. Organizers say the event has grown every year and they, of course, expect that to continue. They say more than $7,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society, not to mention all those bras, which will go to women's shelters and charities.

And you were watching the NFL yesterday, right? And you saw they are also partnering with the American Cancer Society in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness. They have a huge campaign happening, so a lot of the things you see used -- a lot of the cleats and the balls are getting signed by the players and then they are being auctioned off. They are selling a ton of merchandise online, all to benefit the American Cancer Society. We are very excited about this.

BERMAN: You know, it was terrific. It was very, very visible at the games. You could not watch without seeing it and thinking about it and discussing it. Hopefully, it gets more and more people, including men, involved in what is really a crucial fight against cancer.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. Your yearly mammogram, if you're over 40 years of age, this is a wonderful opportunity to do that.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: We'll be right back.


BERMAN: This is Usher?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it's Usher's birthday. He's 35 years old. Happy birthday, Usher.


SAMBOLIN: I think you are, too.

BERMAN: Just saying. Actually, you look OK, but everything --

SAMBOLIN: Berman looks better.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

It is "Money Time".

SAMBOLIN: "Money Time".

BERMAN: Alison Kosik is here this morning.

Great to see you.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Did you bring your seat belt and fasten them?


SAMBOLIN: They've been bucked up for a while.

KOSIK: Yes, buckle them real tight because the U.S. could run out of cash to pay its debts this Thursday, and the investors are getting pretty darn worried about it.

You look at stock futures this morning, they are sharply lower after Senate negotiators failed to come up with a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government. So right now, we are going to be going into what could be a very dangerous week for the markets. As lawmakers in Washington struggle to find common ground on a situation that could have wide reaching ripple effects on the rest of the world.

The global deal of the U.S. debt standoff was center stage this past weekend at the International Finance Conference in Washington, and among the leaders there, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Anshu Jain, the co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank and Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund's managing director who sat down with CNN's Richard Quest to express the feelings of the group.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE, IMF DIRECTOR: They're all concerned because the U.S. is the biggest economy in the world, because it trades with all of them, because it does massive financial consequences for them as well. So it's an international concern that was expressed.


KOSIK: And you can already see the situation playing out in the short- term borrowing market. The interest rate on the one month Treasury bill has been sharply higher as investors, it's amazing, isn't it? This as investors are getting really worried about disruptions in the treasury market if a debt ceiling deal isn't done.

What you're seeing is big banks and companies, what they do is they use the T-bills to park their short-term cash they want to keep liquid and a disruption in this market could have repercussions for the entire credit market, eventually leading to a spike on the interest rates that you and I pay on credit cards, on mortgages, on car loans. And, you know, one thing that gets lost in all of this is consumer confidence. You know, consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level since 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed. So, you know, consumers are getting a little antsy and pull back on how much time they spend and the timing couldn't be worse because we are getting into the crucial holiday shopping season.

BERMAN: You know, you listen to the people from the around the world, like Christiane Lagarde, they cannot believe that we are doing this to ourselves.

KOSIK: Yes. BERMAN: Self-inflicted wounds and an economy that is actually doing better than a lot of the places in Europe. They are looking at us going like, are you crazy?

KOSIK: What is ironic is we are doing, quote, "better," but we're not doing that great.


KOSIK: Even on the growth, it's not that great here. It's anemic.

BERMAN: But why would you screw it up now is sort of the question.

KOSIK: I'd like to know the same.

BERMAN: OK. Thank you, Alison. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, we are talking about the shutdown. We're talking about the debt ceiling. We are now three days away from what a lot of people you just heard from call an economic free-fall. So what is the latest from Washington to keep that from happening? We will give you the news when we come back.


SAMBOLIN: In just three days, the government won't be able to pay its bills. Economic disaster predicted. And new this morning, all hopes seem to rest with two men who hardly ever agree on anything.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I thank you for being here and you who have that Jersey fight in and not backing away from the fight!


BERMAN: Pulling out all of the stops, the hotly contested Senate race. All eyes on New Jersey this week.

SAMBOLIN: And trapped on a rising draw bridge. A pedestrian hoisted 20 feet into the air, dangling above the ground and waiting to be rescued.

BERMAN: Begging the eternal question, why are you doing on a draw bridge?

SAMBOLIN: Why are you there? Yes. Poor woman.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And wait until you hear what she didn't let go of.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 30 minutes past the hour.