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Little Girl Found in Greece; Cory Booker Wins Special Senate Election; Sloppy Safety at Nuclear Plant?; Colts Ended Broncos' Winning Streak

Aired October 21, 2013 - 04:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Roma family has 14 children in total. And they were registered with fake birth certificates.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A young girl found living in filth but when police began questioning the people they thought were her parents, a shocking new mystery began to unravel.

We are live with this really interesting story.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And former vice president Dick Cheney on the record revealing how he thought terrorists could try to kill him.

BERMAN: A big wow there.


GEORGE REYNOLDS, RESCUED BOATER: I tell you what, that is a life or death struggle out there in the water.


BERMAN: Stranded at sea for 14 hours after their boat capsized. An amazing story of survival.

BROWN: Absolutely.

Well, welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown hoping your Monday is off to a great start.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty-two minutes after the hour. Great to see you this morning.

BROWN: And this morning, there are many questions about a little girl found living at a Roma camp in Greece and those are the people some are calling gypsies. It's not clear how she got there and why two people were posing as her parents.

Erin McLaughlin is tracking the latest developments in this story. She is live for us in London this morning.

Hi, Erin. Good morning to you. So what are investigators saying about this?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela, well, they are still trying to figure one out. The charity that's now responsible for the little girl known only as Maria has received over 8,000 phone calls from around the world in response to their appeal for more information to try and find this girl's identity. Of those calls, police are following up on eight of them. Four of them are from the United States.

Now the mystery surrounding this girl first came to light last week when investigators were doing a routine inspection of this Roma camp in central Greece when they came across a little girl with striking features. Blond hair and blue eyes. She was nothing like the couple who said that they were at the time her parents.

Now upon further investigation, the DNA results found that in fact she was not their daughter so now this couple, a 39-year-old male and a 40-year-old woman, will appear in court later today. They are facing charges of abduction of a minor as well as falsifying documents -- Pamela.

BROWN: This couple who posed as her parents initially, what are they saying now -- Erin.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the family is saying that this little girl was well taken care of. They even invited the media into their home showing them the little girl's toys. The family lawyer speaking out saying that a Bulgarian woman gave them her little girl saying that she could not take care of the child. The family lawyer, also speaking to reporters. Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


KOSTAS KATSAVOS, ROMA COUPLE'S ATTORNEY: Claims, claims that we never abduct this child. We just adopted her with way nonlegal. That's where -- we are in the middle of investigation, a private investigation. We're in the middle of investigation. We hope that tonight or tomorrow, we are -- we will find the mother.


MCLAUGHLIN: So they appear to be acknowledging an illegal adoption but not a illegal abduction. That being said, police say that this couple's story has changed many times before. Also raising their suspicion the fact that this couple has 14 children, six of those children's ages are within a time span of 10 months -- Pamela.

BROWN: Unbelievable. And you had mentioned, Erin, earlier that tips have come flooding in since the picture was released including some tips from the U.S.

Do you think we could hear soon from the girl's real mother?

MCLAUGHLIN: I think that's very much remains to be seen. It's certainly what everyone on the ground in Greece that are working to try and find this girl's parents are hoping for -- Pamela. BROWN: All right. Erin McLaughlin, live for us in London, thank you.

BERMAN: Thirty-five minutes after the hour. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was apparently worried that terrorists would kill him by hacking into a device that was keeping him alive.

In an interview with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta that aired first on CBS' "60 Minutes," the former vice president said he had doctors disable a wireless feature on his implanted heart device. That device, an LVAD, was designed to keep his heart pumping until he could get a transplant. He worried that terrorists might find a way to hack that device and send a deadly jolt to his heart, killing him.

Now, if you're like me, I know what you're thinking. This sounds exactly like "Homeland." Right? This was a plot in the "Homeland" TV show. Cheney was asked about this and the vice president said that was accurate portrayal of what was possible.

Unbelievable. This interview will air again tomorrow night on "AC 360." That's 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

BROWN: You're right. I thought of that episode immediately.

BERMAN: Immediately.


All right. Well, this morning we are hearing more now from Ted Cruz, the Republican senator who helped lead the fight that led to the government shutdown. He tells our Dana Bash in a CNN exclusive that he sticks by his call for Obamacare to be done away with. But asked for one day running for the White House, he said he's focused on being in the Senate.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I get that everyone wants to talk politics.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and you know, some trips to some of the first primary and caucus states might be little hints.

CRUZ: But, you know, look. There is a reason for that. Which is the only way to win this fight and, for that matter to win some of the other fights we've have had, is to energize and activate the grassroots of the American people. I've traveled all over the country to town halls and rallies to make the case to the American people you don't get two million people signing a national petition without going directly to the people.

And what we're trying to do -- listen, I think what we're trying to do is bigger than the economy, than the budget, bigger even than Obamacare. What we are trying to do is really change how Washington operates.

The reason people are so frustrated is career politicians in both parties, they aren't listening to you and even more than that the American people have the sense, for good reason, the system is rigged.


BROWN: Cruz not commenting on whether he might push for another shutdown when the current government funding bill runs out.

BERMAN: All right. So he is one of the biggest names in the Democratic Party. Newark Mayor Cory Booker is now Senator-elect Cory Booker after winning a special election for a Senate seat in that state. He will soon head to Washington.

As Alexandra Field reports, what happens next could help define his future.


CORY BOOKER, NEW JERSEY SENATOR-ELECT: You know, I'm going to go down there and try to be the best me possible.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far that's worked for Senator- elect Cory Booker. He's has never had trouble drawing a crowd.

BOOKER: All right.

FIELD: Which is why the New Jersey Democrat may get a very warm welcome when he goes to Washington. Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker.

ROSS BAKER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: I think he's a great asset to the Democrats. I think he will be a great fundraiser.

FIELD: Booker, the mayor of Newark, is so widely known, he has a Twitter following of 1.4 million people. His campaign for the Senate boasted big celebrity endorsements. Marketing experts say he has a powerful and recognizable brand.

ALLAN ADAMSON, LANDOR ASSOCIATES: In Washington, he'll have star power. I think the biggest brand to hit Washington since Hillary.

FIELD: But if you ask the senator-elect he insists his team in Washington won't be about building a bigger name for himself.

BOOKER: There's a lot I have to learn so I'm going to go to work, put my head down and study, study, study, learn, learn, learn, and then be back in New Jersey as much as possible to directly serve people like I've been doing as mayor.

FIELD: Back at Rutgers, Baker says if the mayor of Newark wants to succeed as a senator he'll have to prove he can work with others.

BAKER: He can be very visible and people will expect him to exude that incredible charisma that he has but I think he -- I think he'd well advised to keep it in check.

FIELD: A sound advice for any freshman in Washington but it could prove tough considering the background noise. Some pundits are already saying Booker's a potential pick for a vice presidential run in 2016. For now it's a question he's quick to deflect.

BOOKER: Yes, look. I've also heard that I might be a choice for the Giants right now. They are having a tough time this season so maybe I might get called in.

FIELD (on camera): Whatever he does decide to run for, Cory Booker won't have much of a break from campaign mode. He only has 15 months in the Senate. That's what's left of Senator Frank Lautenberg's term.

Alexandra Field, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Speaking about New Jersey, same-sex marriage is now the law in that state as like four and a half hours ago. Some couples tied the knot just after midnight. A court (INAUDIBLE) took effect, just as I said, a little while ago legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey.

The state's Supreme Court has refused of issue a stay ruling that the state has little likelihood of winning the case and Governor Chris Christie, despite opposing gay marriage has vowed to abide by the court's decision.

BROWN: And also in New Jersey, problems for some homeowners who were hit by Superstorm Sandy. Consumer advocates now say many of those who were entitled to insurance payouts to help rebuild their homes are being shortchanged. The problem? Insurance adjusters who apparently did not calculate the damages properly or did not include the cost of sales tax in their estimates.

The insurance companies dispute that large numbers of customers are being paid less than they're owed.

BERMAN: An investigation now underway in the bay area after a BART commuter train struck and killed two transit workers. An official with the transit systems says the train with only employees aboard hit the workers who were inspecting a section of track east of Oakland.

BART is officially shut down this morning as workers there remain on strike, locked in a contract dispute with management over pensions and benefits.

BROWN: Well, two New Hampshire men are very lucky to be alive this morning. They really are. This is an incredible story. They were out on a homemade sailboat on Friday traveling from Salem, Massachusetts, to Boston when a strong gust of wind hit, capsizing the boat and leaving them clinging for life to a wooden plank right on top of that overturned boat.

Well, they had no radio. No way to call for help. And their only life jacket had drifted away. But they held on, relied on their faith to get them through for 14 hours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REYNOLDS: We knew it would be a long night. And we knew our best chance was to stay with the boat and that, you know, not to panic.

FRED SCHAEFFER, RESCUER BOATER: We prayed together for the scriptures.

REYNOLDS: Yes. And encouraging each other, because we knew -- I tell you what, that's a life and death struggle out there in the water.


BROWN: Yes. Brutal lesson in survival there. Well, eventually a fishing crew spotted them and alerted the authorities. The men refused treatment but it could have been much worse. Officials say that this is a reminder. Always wear a life jacket and have emergency equipment like a radio ready to use.

And also interesting here, they were lucky in many ways. The fact that the weather was pretty moderate.


BROWN: It was only in the 60s. The weather was -- the water was in the high 50s. Think about it.


BERMAN: Yes, this time of the year it could be much, much colder there.

BROWN: It could be much worse, as you know.

BERMAN: Could be much stormier out there.

BROWN: Because you're from Boston.

BERMAN: You know, you're saying always wear a life jacket. The other option, stay on the beach. Right?

BROWN: Right. Right.

BERMAN: I mean, I see there's a homemade boat?

BROWN: Homemade boat. But apparently they had used it many times before and never had any issues. And the weather, the winds did pick up and they were trying to make their way back to Salem, obviously didn't get there.

BERMAN: Well, I'm glad they're OK. Lucky to be live this morning.

BROWN: Yes. They certainly are.

BERMAN: Coming up for us, shocking claims of abuse from the people responsible for containing the world's worst nuclear disaster in the past 20 years. Why they say their safety and others is in jeopardy. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

It has been nearly three years since an earthquake and tsunami led to a catastrophic meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the work to contain that meltdown continues to this day. Now amid a series of accidents that have plagued the facility, some of the people tasked with keeping toxic material in check are speaking out.

Here is Paula Hancocks.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the workers trying to contain the world's worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century. A vital and dangerous job but this worker at the Fukushima nuclear power plant tells CNN he is not treated well. He believes that if he complains, he will be fired.

Hiding his identity as workers are forbidden to talk to the media, he tell ms he works 300 meters from the tank where a toxic water leak was discovered in August.

"We only know the facts when we got home," he claims. "Watching TV news and reading the newspapers the next day. There is no explanation about what is happening and how dangerous it might be."

TEPCO says this leak was not dangerous to workers as they were wearing protective gear telling CNN they have a system in place to ensure that workers know the general radiation levels in their area. But they don't pass on all details of incidents to avoid confusion.

"This is a very complicated issue," says TEPCO spokesman. "Once this kind of trouble occurs we assess what emergency measures are necessary and if the accident does not affect workers directly we don't explain the issue."

As a subcontractor and not a direct TEPCO employee this man is paid $110 a day. $50 lower than an online effort we saw for a similar job with another subcontractor at the same plant. Paid by his company and not directly by TEPCO he worries the danger money workers are promised for possible radiation exposure is being skimped off by some companies.

Reports of middlemen getting rich from this disaster prompted TEPCO to issue questionnaires to subcontractors and their workers last year. TEPCO says 30 percent of those who responded said they received no danger pay for working at the plant.

Of a dozen companies contacted by CNN, two dismissed the claims. Only one said it was aware of the issue and was working to ensure fair payment. TEPCO says it's doing the same.

This man worked as a subcontractor at the plant immediately after the 2011 disaster. He said he doesn't believe TEPCO and its contractors are interested in fairness for workers.

In order to cut costs, he says TEPCO brought in a bidding system. To win the project contractors are bidding so low.

"It's simple," he tell me. "Excessive cost-cutting is making workers suffer in terms of payments and health."

TEPCO maintains the bidding systems is necessary and is making sure bids are adequate without excessive cost-cutting.

Hailed as heroes following the nuclear meltdown, these two workers say there is now a feeling amongst some of being underappreciated and underpaid.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Fukushima, Japan.


BERMAN: Not a good situation in a place with a lot of problems that are still ongoing.


BERMAN: All right. Forty-eight minutes after the hour.

Coming up for us, Peyton Manning's big return to Indianapolis, he ran into a bit of luck. But the bad kind for Denver, the good kind for Indianapolis? Joe Carter is going to have the full breakdown coming up in "The Bleacher Report" next.


BERMAN: You know, Peyton Manning actually received a fairly warm welcome by fans in his return to Indianapolis, but Andrew Luck and the Colts played inspired football. They spoiled the whole damn thing for him.

BROWN: Yes. They sure did and ended the big winning streak that they have been on.

BERMAN: That's right.

BROWN: Joe Carter has more in "The Bleacher Report."

Hi, Joe. Good morning.

JOE CARTER, THE BLEACHER REPORT: Hi. Good morning, guys.

Yes, while the Colts celebrated their past, they got a nice glimpse into their very bright future. You know, plain and simple, Andrew Luck outplayed Peyton Manning, proof that the Indy management made the right decision to let Peyton go and draft Luck.

Now before the game the Colts had a nice moment. They honored Peyton Manning with a standing ovation for about two minutes. They also played a video of some of the best moments from his career with the Colts.

And you know, Robert Mathis is Peyton's teammate for seven seasons. The guy never came within five feet of him in practice but he was all over him last night. And you have to say Indianapolis is officially Andrew Luck's city now. Luck passed for three touchdowns and then ran in another. And it may have been Peyton Manning's week but it certainly was the Colts' night in the end. They win 39-33.


PEYTON MANNING, DENVER BRONCOS QUARTERBACK: I truly appreciated it. There was a great reception from the fans and I truly appreciated that as well. Something I'll always remember. I'm very grateful for it. Really pretty special minute and a half there that something I'll always remember.


CARTER: Well, after winning just two games all of last season, the Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 7-0 start this season. The Chiefs are the only undefeated team left in the NFL.

You know, the strength of this team is really their outstanding defense. A late game turnover locked up the one-point win over Houston Texans.

What can you say about the Texans? They started the season 2-0 and they've now lost five games in a row.

Well, one of the top stories in the lineup section of this morning, the Patriots lost to the Jets because of a never-before-called penalty in overtime.


CARTER: The Patriots' Chris Jones was flagged for using his teammate essentially as a battering ram. It's a new rule this year. You can't push your teammate into the opponent's formation. The 15-yard penalty gave the Jets some more manageable field goal. And just like that, the second attempt was good from 42 yards out. And the game was over. The Jets beat the Pats for the first time in what seems like forever.

So an up and down weekend for you, Berman. The Red Sox are headed for the World Series but your Patriots lose on a wacky penalty. How about that?

BERMAN: I felt like it was a makeup call for the ball four on Xander Bogaerts tonight before Shane Victorino's grand slam. No.

Joe, I have to ask. I mean, that penalty, it's the first time it's being called. It's only time it's every been called. I don't want to gripe too much because the Patriots really should have had that game won before but I couldn't believe it.

CARTER: You know, it's one of those things where it's like that had been -- that had been something that team mates or teams had been using for a lot of years grabbing their teammate and basically running over the center like that to get to the field goal but they instituted the rule in the off-season and this is the first time that they've actually used it. So here we see --

BERMAN: And it sounds like it didn't look like it factor into the play. It's not like they launched the guy. He didn't get his hand on the ball.


BERMAN: It looked like it's that little nudge and they were both on the line of scrimmage with Bill Belichick says, by the way, negates the penalty to begin with. Again the Patriots blew that game a lot earlier but it was a strange, strange thing to see.

CARTER: Yes. Very strange and good for Geno Smith for finally getting a good win against a good team.

BERMAN: No. He looked great. He looked great.

All right, Joe.

BROWN: All right, guys. We could go on and on.

BERMAN: I know. We're going to come back and talk more about this during the whole 5:00 hour. In the meantime, we'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-eight minutes after the hour. We are taking a look at the very top CNN trends on the Web this morning.

And you get a piece of Oprah. Yes. You get a piece of Oprah if you're willing to pay, that is. Oprah is selling off a lot of her personal favorite things in an auction to benefit her Leadership Academies college fund. The items come from her homes in Hawaii, Chicago, Indiana and Santa Barbara.

Must be nice to have four homes.


BERMAN: And you probably do need to get rid of some stuff to keep those four homes in order.


They range from a $100 Victorian doll carriage. Got to get rid of those. To an 18th century bureau which is selling for about 50 grand. Plus there's portraits and memorabilia and the top show queen's personal Vespa scooter.

BROWN: Now I'd go for that.

BERMAN: You'd go for the Vespa, not the -- you know. BROWN: Ride around New York.

BERMAN: Yes. It's crazy.

BROWN: Cruise in New York on Oprah's Vespa. Not too bad.

All right. Well, "Gravity" still packing them in at the multiplex. The space thriller earning an estimated $31 million at the box office. It is the third straight weekend on top of the charts and it has already earned back more than enough to reimburse the studio's investment.

Second place with a disappointing $17 million for the remake of "Carrie." And the WikiLeaks story "The Fifth Estate" landed in eighth. Grossing a mere $1.7 million. Wow.

BERMAN: "Gravity" keeps on rolling.

BROWN: Keeps on going.

BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you that there will be more arrests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They plotted this before. It just wasn't an overnight situation. And somebody on the outside helped them. As I said, it's not -- all alone, they didn't do it all on their own.


BERMAN: Two convicted killers back behind bars after forced documents allowed them to just walk out of jail. How on earth did they do this? And the big question this morning, who helped them?

BROWN: And plagued with problems since its rollout weeks ago. Today, President Obama expected to answer Obamacare critics but can he offer any solutions?




GREEN: Couldn't turn back. This is a fire truck -- not a fire truck so we went through it. And it was quite scary.