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EARLY START

Chaos In Ukraine; Raising the Minimum Wage; Inside the "Loud Music" Trial

Aired February 19, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking overnight, a nation in upheaval. Chaos in the streets. Dozens dead. Hundreds injured. People demanding the president to step down. We are live with the very latest this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Inside the jury, they couldn't agree that killing an unarmed teen after an argument over loud music was murder. Now, one juror explains why.

BERMAN: And winter warm-up. Parts of the country getting a break from the snow and freezing are temperatures. But, oh, no! With that comes a new warning. Indra Petersons is tracking the temperatures and the danger that is coming with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS (on-camera): All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Very busy day today.

BERMAN (on-camera): Very, very busy. I'm John Berman. Thirty minutes past the hour right now.

ROMANS: Let's start in the Ukraine this morning. The death toll there is rising. Kiev's main square up in flames. Live pictures now of Independence Square. Protesters have been facing off with police after a day of intense fighting, fighting that has left now at least 25 people dead. It was the deadliest day, the bloodiest day in Ukraine in decades, since it became an independent nation.

And despite the national pressure, Ukraine's president is insisting he won't back down. Nick Paton Walsh live in Kiev joins us on the phone this morning. Nick, remind us, why are all these people taking to the streets, they want this president out? Nick, can you hear me? Can you tell us what's happening on the ground now? All right.

Nick on the phone, he is in Kiev. He has been watching the violence. You can see the pictures. It is just stunning. Literally, the square on fire. And we're told there are busloads and busloads of young men coming in from the countryside who want to join in these protests, John.

BERMAN: We'll get Nick on the phone when we can.

Meanwhile, let's turn to what's happening right now in Venezuela where violent protests are just getting worse there as well.

Demonstrators insist they will stay in the streets until the President Nichoolas Maduro leaves power. That, despite the arrest of the opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, educated in America (ph), by the way, on charges that he was responsible for the deaths of at least four people in these demonstrations. Lopez turned himself in before thousands of supporters. You can see it right here. What a dramatic scene.

Maduro is accusing Washington of being behind the protests. The president held his own rally, a little more subdued, you can see it here if you insist, that he will not step down. He's calling the opposition an infection that needs to be cured.

ROMANS: In Vienna today, Iran and six world powers are sitting down for a second day of nuclear talks aimed at reading a permanent deal on Tehran's contested nuclear program. A major sticking point appears to be Iranian missiles which the U.S. and its allies consider part of a potential nuclear threat. The Tehran contends, and this is a part of its defense establishment and beyond the limit of these talks.

BERMAN: The Obama administration is reportedly talking this week about new options in Syria, now that peace talks have failed, and violence is on the rise again. Top aides are set to meet this week to discuss what else can be done short of putting U.S. troops on the ground. The administration is said to be worried about the unintended consequences of anything they do, although, a lot of people, critics will say that doing nothing over the last several months has had consequences as well.

ROMANS: The president is heading to Mexico today for the so-called Three Amigo's Summit when he'll meet with the heads of Mexico and Canada. On the agenda, free trade, border security, the status of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Canadian prime minister, Steven Harper, is not happy that President Obama has yet to approve that pipeline that would bring oil from his nation into the U.S. and says he wants to bring it up when they meet.

BERMAN: New developments this morning in the investigation into New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly. Both have again refused to turn over documents to a state legislative committee looking into the shutdown of those lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Committee members say they plan to ask a judge to force the aides to comply.

ROMANS: The federal government is now apparently looking for a way to keep track of your car. Listen up, folks, homeland security has put out a request to find a private contractor to build a national license plate tracking system. Many local police departments already track license plates, but this system would connect all of those local databases to make it easier to know where people are going.

The DHS spokesman tells "The Washington Post" the database would only be used as part of criminal investigations.

BERMAN: I can't decide if this is creepy or just common sense.

ROMANS: Both.

BERMAN: Both. Tweet us with what you think. We're at @EARLYSTART or tweet Romans --

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right. This morning, both sides still reacting to a new report showing that raising the minimum wage could help and hurt at the same time. The Congressional Budget Office finding that increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help lift nearly one million families out of poverty. But here's the catch, at the same time, the CBO says it could cost half a million jobs.

Republicans call the report proof that raising the minimum wage is a job killer. Democrats in the White House disagree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The opposition to raising the minimum wage cost jobs. If you tease it out all the way, then there shouldn't be a minimum wage at all. And, there are probably fewer than five percent of the American people who believe that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The federal minimum wage right now is $7.25 an hour, though, many states and some cities require higher minimum salaries for workers.

ROMANS: And people who opposed to it, they say don't have small business be the back of your anti-poverty program. Anti-poverty programs are one thing. Wages are another thing. That's what the concern is. But, we'll see. It's a brig priority of the administration.

Global stock markets are mix today right now. I'm looking at Japan lower, Hong Kong slightly higher. Stocks in Europe basically moving breakeven. Here in the U.S., things look the same. Investors all that tech stocks, the NASDAQ now in an eight-day winning streak.

Interesting study in the Harvard Business Review with this title, "Who's Got The Top Jobs?" The study has been looking at the make-up of senior executives over the past few decades, the top jobs in American business. Here's what they found. There are more women, more leaders educated outside of the U.S. and more corporate leaders with undergraduate degrees from public universities now in the majority at executive -- public universities. Also interesting, few lifers. The study compares leaders in the top ten roles of fortune 100 companies over ten years.

BERMAN: Interesting stuff.

ROMANS: Interesting.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, can you feel it in the air? Yes, it is warmer. And there's no snow for the first day in the last 100 days.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: It feels very nice to say that. But, there's a big problem. All that snow's got to go somewhere when it melts and that could mean some serious, serious serious flooding. Indra Petersons has the forecast.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You got to add the bummer right to the top. I mean, I want to start with good stuff here. We're looking at temperatures above normal. These are temperatures we were just discussing and really the entire country seeing almost above normal temperatures. But yes, above normal temperatures, then some rain as another system is expected to make its way through the Ohio Valley and in through the northeast today.

You combine those two, and what do you have? You have the threat for some flooding. So, Chicago today looking for a flood watch also up through upstate New York. So, yes, we have a lot of snow on the ground. Temperatures are warm. That alone produces the flooding, even the potential for some ice jamming out there. But of course, you add rain on top of that. You're going to wash away even more snow.

So, yes, there's rain, but there's another system tomorrow that will produce some heavy snow. Even some blizzard conditions are expected in through northern portions of Iowa and Minnesota. Why is this so important to the rest of you? Because you once again, you have that setup. The cold air to the north.

All this warm air we were just talking about, the low moving through, a jet stream moving through and we have the threat for severe weather. About 300,000 of you tomorrow really looking for the threat. Tonight already, around Joplin, Missouri looking for some severe thunderstorms this evening. Then by tomorrow, you start to see that cold air and kind of the storms kind of starting to slow up right around the lakes.

And then you'll see that big squall line in through tomorrow afternoon extending all the way into the gulf. So, this is really something everyone needs to pay attention to. It feels like spring. We could be talking about even tornadoes.

BERMAN: We'll be watching. Thanks, Indra.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

All right. Now, let's get back to the latest from Ukraine. Nick Paton Walsh is there. He's on the ground in Kiev. Nick, tell us what you're seeing this hour.

VOICE OF NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, (INAUDIBLE) I'm just hearing the continued banging noises we hear from down in the square. That doesn't mean anything is happening. There's been a lot of exchanges of fireworks over the past night or so. Smoke is still billowing out from the square. I can see some (INAUDIBLE) are green now. The key question is, how does this standoff defuse it?

So, the numbers of people have lessened. In fact, I'm able to see from my vantage point how police positions have advanced. And they have moved in on two flanks of this square, quite substantially limiting the space that protesters have available to them, but still the standoff there. Still the protests despite being less in number this morning -- as long as the police -- as well, frankly, that's still going at each other.

There are still stirring speeches being given to the crowd, but what we are lacking at this point, any particular sign of the fiscal process emerging which can calm things down here. The talk last night between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition were -- the opposition described as pretty harsh pointless (ph). They said that -- distanced himself from radicals within the crowd.

He seems to be digging in many ways. Many, I think, have been supporting him. Hoping he might have some firm response to it. And at the end of the day, frankly, the ideological fate of this country hangs in the balance. Does it swing towards Europe or does it continue its strong links with Russia who at this point have billions of dollars of cash ready to assist the economy? A stark choice for many in Ukraine, because there no single arm that pleases the entire country here -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Kiev. Thank you, Nick.

BERMAN: And you can see those water cannons shooting into those flames trying to put them out and chaos in the streets ongoing. We'll keep you updated on the situation there.

ROMANS: All right. A jury deadlock not able to decide if Michael Dunn had the right to kill an unarmed teenager after an argument over loud music. This morning, we're learning what went on in that jury box. One juror's story next.

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ROMANS: This morning, we're going inside the deliberations in the loud music trial. Hearing from a juror who thinks Michael Dunn got away with murder.

The juror who identified herself as Valerie tells ABC News there were heated arguments in the jury room as jurors debated whether Dunn was justified in shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. They could not reach agreement leading to a deadlock on that charge. Three thought Dunn acted in self-defense, but the rest thought he should have just walked away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VALERIE, JUROR #5 (ph): We all believed there was another way out, another option. Roll your window up. Ignore the taunting. Put your car in reverse. Back up to the front of the store, move the parking spot over. That's my feeling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Dunn was convicted of attempted murder and faces up to 60 years in prison. Prosecutors say they will retry him on that murder charge.

BERMAN (voice-over): Some of her comments made it clear that that jury had some difficulty interpreting the law. The final outcome, 9- 3, will leave many people to suggest that perhaps the prosecution could have gone at this case a different way to turn those last three jurors. Maybe next time.

All right. Forty-four minutes after the hour. Breaking overnight, a desperate search is on right now in Springfield, Missouri, for a 10- year-old girl missing after apparently being grabbed off the street by a man police say she did not know. Witnesses say they saw Haley Owens thrown into truck while walking to a friend's house. A suspect has now been arrested, but the girl has not yet been found.

ROMANS: All right. In South Africa today, lawyers for both sides are now saying they'd rather not see the entire murder trial of Olympic sprinter, Oscar Pistorius aired live on television. The trial begins in just a few weeks, and both prosecutors and the defense say, well, they're hoping to have in parts of the trial recorded. They do not want witness testimony to air. Pistorius is charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend last year.

BERMAN: Dangerous air turbulence in the news again this morning. This time, nine people seriously hurt. These pictures are from on board the Cathay Pacific 747 flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Look at that. You can see everything just throwing (ph) everywhere. That jet turbulence off the coast to Japan.

Passengers say it felt like a roller coaster, a roller coaster of projectiles flying everywhere. They were thrown. The several hit the overhead bins. The airline is now investigating what happened.

ROMANS: It was just yesterday we were talking about the Denver to Billings, Montana flight -- united in this country where several people were seriously injured because of that rough turbulence.

Let's take a look at what's happening on "NEW DAY" today. Chris Cuomo joins us now. Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hey, how are you doing, guys? I'm just writing our lead for this morning right now. And obviously, it's going to be this turmoil around the world. I mean, why is it happening right now? We remember the Arab spring. Is there some type of concerted action going on? It doesn't seem that way yet, but we're going to have to look a little bit closer. We're going to take you. You see the different boxes there. In Kiev, in the Ukraine, horrible situation there, it's getting worse. You have opposition parties setting up. There's big questions about what the U.S. should be doing there. And now, Venezuela, what's going on there? Again, there's a number of civil insurrection. A lot of students were involved. U.S. diplomats being kicked out of that country. And again, the question, what can the U.S. do?

And then the situation you hear about most often, of course, is Syria. We wanted a diplomatic solution there. You know that the country has Secretary Kerry working on that. It doesn't seem to be working. It's getting more bloody. More innocents are getting killed. More women and children are being affected. What can the U.S. do is the answer? It can do nothing at all. We're going to take that on today.

We're also going to have Mike Rowe (ph) on. Everybody loves Mike Rowe, right? Well, now, there's controversy. Why? He voiced over a commercial. That's what he does. And for this one, it was Wal-Mart. And, he was talking about how they're dedicating to buying a lot of American-made products.

A lot of people got angry, because they're angry about Wal-Mart, what does Wal-Mart pay, that they don't really manufacture anything, should it be backing a corporation. He took a lot of heat. And guess what, he answered it. So, he's coming on the show today to defend himself against these allegations, talk about a new book he has. So, we'll put him to the "NEW DAY" test and see what he has.

ROMANS: Some of those comments, you know, people who really loved him were saying, wait, how rich to be saying Wal-Mart is going to be bringing manufacturing to the United States when manufacturing left the united states because of the super-low prices at Wal-Mart -- they really, really, really did not like that Mike Rowe put his voice to that.

BERMAN: Also, my door is stuck. So, if he can come down and help me --

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Is that a dirty job?

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Chris. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Your office is a dirty job. That is true. All right. Thanks, Chris.

Putting the fun in funeral outrage after a soldier posts this photo online. We'll tell you what happened next after the break.

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ROMANS: Now reassigned, a Wisconsin National Guard soldier who had been a member of the honor guard, after posting this picture to an Instagram account. It shows about a dozen soldiers striking poses around a flag-draped casket with the caption "we put the fun in funeral." Many calling it beyond disrespectful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R) WISCONSIN: To me, it's just completely unacceptable. It's an outrage. It's unfathomable to me that people who are not just service members but were picked to be in this highly specialized area wouldn't be sensitive enough to realize just how awful that is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That picture was apparently taken at a training facility in Arkansas. The soldier who posted it, Specialist Terry Harrison (ph) has been assigned to other duties while the investigation is ongoing. The Wisconsin National Guard says she has received death threats.

BERMAN: You know, my heart goes out to the families of everyone who has met one of those caskets.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: You know, at an airport, coming home. I hope they never have to see this picture.

All right. Just few minutes before the hour. Happening today, the energy department set to announce new loan guarantees to build the first new nuclear reactors in the United States since 1978. Some $6.5 billion will go to a group led by the energy firm, Southern Company, to build two new reactors at a plant about 30 miles southeast of Augusta, Georgia.

President Obama supports the project as part of an overall strategy that cut the nation's reliance on fossil fuels.

New worries this morning over the impact of California's drought. At least 10 communities could run out of water within 60 days. The declining water levels could be making private wells unsafe to drink. The state plans to truck water into some of the hardest hit areas and laid pipes to connect them to other public water systems. But the situation is very, very dire.

ROMANS: It really is. And you know, you've got, I think, 88,000 farms in California. Not only are you -- you don't have drinking water, we're talking about farm problems, too. That could mean higher prices when you go to the grocery store.

All right. Coming up, what a difference three years makes. There's new evidence Netflix has really, really gotten over its past missteps. We've got that story for you in "Money Time" next.

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ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." Stocks struggling for direction this morning. Japan closed lower. Hong Kong finished higher. European stocks mixed. U.S. stock futures right now -- this moment are a little bit lower here. It's all about tech stocks, so far, this week. The Dow down yesterday, but the NASDAQ has risen for eight days and is now at the highest level since January 2000. That's right, January 2000. The S&P 500 is now only a few points away from its record-closing high.

Americans are back to their old bad habits, pulling the plastic out of their wallets. Borrowing surged at the end of last year. Total household debt jumps by $241 billion, everything from mortgages to credit cards and student loans, auto loans. It's the first time since before the great recession that annual household debt increased.

The majority of borrowing driven by mortgage debt. American borrowing now stands at $11.5 trillion. A huge number, but still, still nine percent below the peak reached in 2008.

The success of "House of Cards" is not all the Netflix is smiling about today. It took a couple of years, but Netflix customers have finally gotten over that huge price hike. Remember complaining about that? The streaming giant customer satisfaction rating is now at a three-year high. In fact, Netflix scored a bigger year over year increase than any other online retailer last year. Netflix now has 40 million streaming subscribers worldwide, nearly all of them here in the U.S.

BERMAN: Do you want to know what happens in the first episode of season 10, "House of Cards"?

ROMANS: No! No!

BERMAN: I see the first two episodes now. Do you want to know? Do you want to know?

ROMANS: That's good?

BERMAN: It's good.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: It's good.

All right. Thanks for watching, everyone. "NEW DAY" starts right now.