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Kenneth Bae Speaks Out; Top NFL Draft Pick Comes Out; Castaway Heads Home

Aired February 10, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news this morning. We're hearing from the American held prisoner in North Korea. We're live with what Kenneth Bae is saying right now.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And could the NFL soon have its first openly gay player? A top draft prospect now sharing his very personal story.

BERMAN: The south bracing for another big winter storm. Snow, ice, sleet, hail. Will Atlanta be ready this time? Indra Petersons is tracking the storm for us.


FEYERICK (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick in for Christine Romans.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman in for me. It is 30 minutes past the hour right now.

FEYERICK: And this morning, an American held for more than a year in North Korea is speaking out. Kenneth Bae insisting that he hasn't lost hope. A former U.S. ambassador is now on the ground in Pyongyang as his family steps up its efforts to try and bring him home. Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul. And Paula, what is Bae saying right now about going back to this labor camp?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Deborah, certainly, he's not happy about it. He's very concerned about his health. He's basically said that if he has to stay there for several months, then it means that he'll probably be back in hospital again. Remember, last year he only spent three months in the labor camp and then was taken to hospital because of concerns about his health. But certainly, one thing that he'll be hoping for is that there is help on the way and there is going to be an envoy in Pyongyang trying to lobby for his release.

Now, there's no direct link at this point, but as you say, we do know that a U.S. ambassador is on the ground. Donald Gregg, he was the former South Korean -- former U.S. ambassador to South Korea in the late 1980s and the early 1990s and has been lobbying for more engagement with North Korea, he has landed in Pyongyang. This, we're being told by KCNA, the state-run media. We don't know why he's there, but the assumption is certainly among South Korean media that he's there to try and lobby for Bae's release. But Bae is concerned he's being sent back to this labor camp. Let's listen to what he said.


KENNETH BAE, KOREAN-AMERICAN BEING HELD IN NORTH KOREA: I'm very strong mentally and spiritually and trying to stay strong emotionally as well. But my main concern right now is that I cannot in my physical condition wise have labor for eight hours a day for the next couple months will be difficult.


BAE: So, if they can do something right away is the best we can do.


HANCOCKS: Now, of course, that's his concern, that he wants something done right away. He said that he's concerned about these U.S./South Korean military drills which start at the end of this month. We just heard today that that's going to start on February 24th, because he said if tensions escalate on the Korean Peninsula, then he could be stuck for another several months. And he said if that is the case, he is convinced he will be back in hospital.

So, certainly, he will be hoping that this envoy, if that is, in fact, why Donald Gregg is in Pyongyang, is there to lobby for his release -- John and Deborah.

FEYERICK: And is there any suggestion by the North Koreans that the prospects, that there might be some prospects for Bae being released?

HANCOCKS: What we've heard from KCNA is simply that Gregg is on the ground and he's there with a group, according to them.

They have not even mentioned the word "Bae," and his name has not been connected to Gregg's at this point, but it would be a rather significant coincidence, the fact that a U.S. ambassador does touch down on the same day that we heard from a Swedish embassy official just last week that they were hoping Robert King, the U.S. ambassador, might be going on Monday, today, into Pyongyang. So, it would be a coincidence if it's not connected.

FEYERICK: All right. Paula Hancocks, thank you so much for us today.

BERMAN: Thirty-four 34 minutes after the hour right now.

And today, many same-sex couples will gain new benefits from the federal government.


BERMAN (voice-over): Attorney General Eric Holder is set to formally give legally married same-sex couples the same status as other married couples in federal matters, talking about bankruptcy, prisoner visitation, death benefits. As before, the federal government based those benefits on whether a state recognized these marriages.

In a speech over the weekend, Holder compared what's happening today to the government's role during the civil rights movement.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Just as was true during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation's struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher. Then as now, nothing less than our country's founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law is at stake. And so, the justice department's role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy's time.


BERMAN: Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states as well as the District of Columbia, but this decision will apply to legally married couples in all 50 states.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Some immigrants may find it easier this morning to get permission to come to the U.S. even if they gave support to terror groups. The Obama administration announcing those who gave, quote, "limited material support," unquote, to terrorists are no longer automatically prohibited from emigrating here.

Critics say the move could put more Americans at risk, but Homeland Security says it only gives the administration more discretion in choosing who can move to the U.S.

And this morning, dangerous weather is impacting millions from the southeast to the northwest. Snow, ice, rain not letting up, making it difficult to drive and get out, and even more bad weather, yes, it's coming.

BERMAN: It is a mess again. Portland, Oregon, getting hit again this morning after storms that left the city frozen under heavy snow and a thick coating of ice. Schools there are closed this morning and driving conditions are expected to be very, very difficult. Officials just urging residents to stay home.

FEYERICK: North Carolina -- Northern California is trying to dry out after heavy rain led to flooding and scary landslides. This one in Sonoma County. As much as 13 inches of rain have fallen there in the last few days more than all of 2013.

BERMAN: In Western Pennsylvania, authorities are still investigating a tour bus crash that left more than two dozen people hurt. The roads were snow covered. Police say the driver was just going too fast and lost control.

Near Philadelphia, more than 20,000 customers are waking up still without power this morning amid a fresh coating of snow. They have been in the dark since an ice storm hit last Wednesday. FEYERICK: Well, the south is getting ready now for another possible ice storm coming less than two weeks after Atlanta was frozen by a storm that brought snow and ice to the city. This time, the governor's office is promising that, yes, it's ready, with crews on alert to make sure that thousands do not get stuck on the highways if bad weather hits.


BRIAN ROBINSON, SPOKESPERSON FOR GEORGIA GOV. NATHAN DEAL: We're getting ready, and trucks are coming here right now. Workers are coming here right now. There is a major concern about the amount of ice that we're expecting. We certainly learned a lot from two weeks ago. Make sure that the trucks can get on the roads to deliver the salt, the sand, and the brine used for pretreatment. That is critical.


FEYERICK: OK, round two. We'll see how they do. The storm could also bring snow and ice to many places from Oklahoma to North Carolina.


BERMAN (on-camera): Indra Petersons watching the forecast. The question, Indra, this time, how bad is this storm going to be in the southeast? Are they ready this time?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, let's hope they're ready, because you see this? This means the southeast is on alert. We're talking about winter weather advisories and winter storm watches already now in effect, extending all the way even in through Wednesday evening and even some portions into Thursday morning. Let's talk about what is going on and why.

Notice the cold air again up in the upper Midwest. That cold air expected to sag farther down to the south. Once it does so, it intersects with the moisture around the gulf. Same thing, repeat of what we saw last time. So, what do you see? You start off with some rain where it's a little bit warmer until that cold air arrives. Then you go through the overnight tonight, right?

Temperatures, they go down, you start to get the threat for icing. Now, this is just one wave. There are two waves of energy making their way through. So, by tomorrow night in through Wednesday, really start to see that ice and snow expand. It lasts all throughout the day on Wednesday and even seeing some snow in through Thursday morning. That's the concern.

What are they talking about? A quarter of an inch of ice is possible. Also, even as much as one inch of snow from the first system out through Atlanta. Northern portions most likely, one to two inches possible on that second round. You really want to pay attention, though. That same storm has the potential to make its way into the northeast, meaning Wednesday in through Thursday, guys. Let's hope we are ready. Possibly heavy some snow for us, but it's far away. We'll keep watching it.

BERMAN: Thank you for that, Indra.

PETERSONS: No problem.


BERMAN: All right. This morning we are hearing from a standout, all- American football player, a player that many people have on NFL draft lists. This player, Michael Sam, says he's gay. He just graduated from the University of Missouri. He is regarded as one of the best defensive players in college football. He was his team's MVP.

He led the S.E.C. in sacks and he could now soon be the first openly gay player on an NFL roster. Andy Scholes joins us with more. Andy, this is a big moment in football.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, John. This is a pretty big deal. You know, Michael Sam, as you say, he's one of the best players in college football this past season. He was the S.E.C. Defensive Player of the Year, and he is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds during May's NFL draft. Now, when that happens, he will become the NFL's first openly gay player.

Now, there had been a lot of talk over the last few years that a current NFL player was ready to come out as gay, but it never happened. Now, Sam says he wanted to do this now and tell his story before someone else did.


MICHAEL SAM, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: I told my teammates this past August that -- I came out to my teammates, and they took it great. They rallied around me, they supported me, and I couldn't have asked for better teammates. Well, I knew from a young age that I was attracted to guys. And growing up, I didn't know if it was a phase or it was just something that -- I wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable.

So, I never really -- I didn't tell anyone growing up. This is something that I've known for a while. But you know, this is, to me, it's just telling something, another person that, hey, I'm gay, and then it shouldn't be a big problem.


SCHOLES: Now, Sam says telling the world that he is gay is nothing compared to the adversity he's already faced. He's one of eight children. One of his older brothers died from a gunshot wound. An older sister died when she was a baby. Another older brother went missing in 1998, and two other brothers have been in and out of jail since eighth grade. Both of them are currently in jail.

In a statement, the NFL said, "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."

Guys, as I said, this will be a pretty big deal. He'd be the first openly gay athlete we see on a week-to-week base. Of course, Jason Collins came out last year, but he hasn't played in the NBA since then. We have Robbie Rogers in the MLS, but we don't get to see him as much as we would see Michael Sam in the most popular sport in the country on a week-to-week basis.

BERMAN: You know, he talked to his own team and coaches before this college football season and he was welcomed. He was a leader on that team all year. Hopefully, that's a model of what can happen in the NFL as well. Andy Scholes, thanks so much for being with us on the story. It's a very, very big milestone today in sports.

FEYERICK (on-camera): No question.

BERMAN: Let's get a check now of what's going on in the markets this morning. Alison Kosik is here. Good morning, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Seeing a lot of green arrows, at least, for the markets overseas. Japan's stock market closing with a gain of 1.8 percent. Hong Kong slightly lower, a jump of two percent in shanghai. Markets in Europe look like they're following Asian markets higher. London, France and Germany all off to a pretty good start for the week.

Two big things we're going to be watching for this week. First of all, testimony from the new head of the fed, Janet Yellen. She's going to be on Capitol Hill this week. Investors anxiously awaiting to -- excuse me -- hear how she thinks the U.S. economy is doing at this point. Also on the watch this week, retail sales numbers for January will be coming out.

The reason these are so important is because the winter weather that we've been getting, especially during the holidays, caused, of course, chaos throughout the country. They're expected to have taken their toll on how sales did over the crucial holiday shopping season. Those numbers come out on Thursday. So, those two things really going to be moving the markets this week.

BERMAN: We will be watching. Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

FEYERICK: And coming up, the castaway who says he was lost at sea for more than a year, he's now heading home. We'll have the latest on his condition and his trip coming up next.


BERMAN: So, the castaway who says he spent 13 months lost at sea is heading home to El Salvador this morning. Jose Salvador Alvarenga boarded a flight just a few hours ago from the Marshall Islands where he's been since he washed up last month. CNN's Miguel Marquez has more from the Marshall Islands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a final checkup and then off he goes. Jose Alvarenga is now on his way home to El Salvador, but not before taking care of a little business that he wanted to do here, and he asked for a picture with the president of the Marshall Islands, and the people here were only too happy to oblige. It's now most famous visitor.

We're also learning some details about his first days, his first hours here on the Marshall Islands. He washed up on small island called Ebon several hundred miles away from where we're standing now. He's certainly surprised, the people there wearing only tattered underwear and brandishing a knife. They finally got them to drop that knife and then fed him pancake after pancake after pancake he ate for days, speaking Spanish in a machine gun fashion while he was eating.

They were able to communicate with him, amazingly enough, using charades and drawing pictures. There was also a Norwegian anthropologist on that island who happened to speak a little Italian, but maybe what helped most of all was one person's knowledge of the TV show "Dora the Explorer."

Now, despite some skepticism about his story, officials tell us that they have no reason to doubt Mr. Alvarenga's incredible saga, and it will come to an end hours from now. After 13-1/2 months, he is taking the short way home, by plane.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Majuro, Marshall Islands.


BERMAN: What a story that is.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us. Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Great live shot, all the way from the Marshall Islands. Good for Miguel.

All right. So, I wish this will be nice some day when this isn't a story, but it is today. Michael Sam, the all-American defensive lineman from Missouri, he's got everything you need to succeed in the NFL, but the big story is that he's revealing he's gay and what will this impact on his announcement to go pro? What will it mean for him? What will it mean going forward? What does it mean for this league? We'll go through all of it. You'll get to hear from the young man in his own words.

We're also going to have a very different type of personal story on the show this morning. Jason Patric, you know him, a well-known actor, been in a lot of big movies over the years, but he is in the fight of his life now for his son. Four years old. Estranged from the father. A bitter custody battle with the mother now to a new level.

Jason Patric, guys, has become an advocate for what he says is parental alienation, an issue that seems to be spreading through the country. A lot of different families affected by it. And now, the new battle is that the mother of his child is saying he cannot use a likeness of his own son to do any of the campaigning for parental alienation that he's doing. So, there's a new wave in the legal battle. He'll be on to talk about it.

BERMAN: Chris, we've been following this story from the beginning. Excited to see the latest developments on that. We'll see you in a little bit.

FEYERICK: Yes. Thanks, Chris.

Well, coming up, dramatic testimony in a murder trial. Was a teenager killed because of loud music? That story on the other side.


FEYERICK: Prosecutors could rest their case as soon as today in the murder trial against a Florida man accused of killing a teenager. Michael Dunn admits he opened fire on four teens after a dispute over loud rap music. He says they pulled a weapon on him, but police never found one. This weekend, Dunn's fiancee gave emotional testimony saying that before the confrontation, Dunn told her, quote, "I hate that thug music," unquote.

Police also showed pictures of the bullet-riddled SUV where 17-year- old Jordan Davis lost his life.

Well, coming up, AOL says it was wrong. The online giant restoring 401(k) contributions after employees got angry. That story in "Money Time," next.


FEYERICK: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is "Money Time," and we are joined by Alison Kosik. She's here with us. Good morning, Alison.

KOSIK: Good morning to you. European markets modestly higher, so far, this morning. Most Asian markets ended with sizable gains. The Nikkei in Japan surged by 1.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite first up by two percent, but both of these indexes are still in negative territory since the beginning of the year. They are seeing stock futures here in the U.S. lower following Friday's big gains.

Now, there are a few things that are going to be weighing on investors this week. The first, reality setting in. That Friday jobs report is showing weaker-than-expected hiring. It actually may be a bigger deal than first thought. Also, we're going to be hearing from the new fed chair, Janet Yellen, this week and retail sales numbers that are expected to show some real weakness in consumer spending.

A reversal and an apology from the CEO of AOL to his employees. AOL now saying it will not change its 401(k) contribution plan from a pay period match to a once-a-year match. Tim Armstrong also saying that he made a mistake when he pointed out two specific, what he called distress pregnancies, as part of the reason for the company's decision to change its 401(k) plan.

On Thursday, Armstrong blamed Obamacare and cited the pregnancies that cost a million dollars each as reasons why it would cut its benefits plan. One of those new moms, Deana Fay (ph), is going to be appearing on "Erin Burnett Out Front" tonight.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg tops the list of America's 50 biggest donors. According to a new report from "The Chronicle and Philanthropy," Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated almost $1 billion of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Just putting this in perspective, that billion dollars is 13 percent of all money given by the nation's top 50 donors last year. Translation? That's big money.


FEYERICK: It's nice to have. It's even nicer to give it away, when you can.


FEYERICK: Absolutely. Alison Kosik, thanks.

Well, everybody, "NEW DAY" starts right now.


SAM: I'm Michael Sam. I'm a football player and I'm gay.

CUOMO: Breaking overnight, an all-American football player reveals he's gay. He'll likely be the first openly gay player in the NFL. We hear from him in his own words this morning.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here we go again. Another storm and ice storm set to slam the south today. Atlanta's first since the chaos that shut down the city last time. Are they ready this time?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news. Kenneth Bae, the American held in North Korea speaking out this morning from a prison labor camp as the government there stops an American envoy from coming to help free him.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Happy Monday. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It's six o'clock in the east on this Monday, February 10th.

Breaking overnight, is the NFL about to get its first openly gay player? Michael Sam, defensive end from the University of Missouri made the revelation in an ESPN interview this weekend. Sam is a first team all-american as a senior this past season, one of the most skilled defensive players imaginable. A shoo-in for the NFL. But what is making headlines, of course, is his sexuality.