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Magic Johnson Playing Defense; TSA Warns Travelers About MERS; Hundreds Killed in Turkey Mine Explosion; Radio Legend Casey Kasem Missing; Mark Cuban's New App

Aired May 14, 2014 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Magic Johnson playing defense. On the record about the bizarre personal attack launched at him by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. How did Johnson get caught in the middle of Sterling's drama? And how well does he know the woman accused of leaking Sterling's racist rant? Our CNN exclusive next.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning, hundreds killed in a mine explosion in Turkey. Right now, a frantic race to find survivors. A live report just ahead.

ROMANS: Breaking news this morning, the TSA warning travelers about a new virus threat. Two confirmed cases already in the U.S. and there could soon be more. We are going to have the very latest on this health alert.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is 31 minutes after the hour now and we are hearing Magic Johnson's side of the story now, the NBA legend and business philanthropist, in an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, is responding to Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner who said during his sit-down with Anderson that Johnson should be ashamed of himself for his HIV diagnosis, and that he doesn't do enough for the black community.

Well, now, Johnson is firing back, calling the situation sad and wondering why Sterling is going after him. Listen.


EARVIN "MAGIC" JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, you know, here is a man who we would think would be educated and a man who would -- is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team that has an incredible platform to change the world.

But he is doing it in a negative way. You know, first of all, 22 years ago, I announced that I did have HIV. And I came out like a man. You know, I told the world.

I talked to a lot of young people who just got HIV and was thinking about, you know, committing suicide, you see? And I tried to talk them out of that.

And we have given away over $15 million, my foundation.

Magic Johnson should not have been included in your conversation, because I have nothing to do with this.

But since you have put me in it again, and then you want to try to disrespect me, of the work that I have done in the minority community, that really makes me upset. And then my competitive spirit comes out, because I have done all this great work, all the kids we have sent to college. And I have got 150 kids on scholarship right now.

But the problem is, he is living in the Stone Ages. He can't make those comments about African-Americans or Latinos. He just can't do it.


ROMANS: Of course, Donald Sterling talked about a lot more, more than just Magic Johnson and the NBA when he sat down with Anderson Cooper for an exclusive interview. He's also talking about his future with his wife and the behavior that could lead to his divorce. Listen to this.


DONALD STERLING, OWNER, L.A. CLIPPERS: I think we'll divorce. I think she's already filed. I guess I was bad committing all those terrible -- I don't even want to say it, but, you know, people say how do you commit adultery? You justify things. You say, well, every man's parents or friends have a mistress. I mean, it may make you smile, but when you're so old, you don't think it's wrong anymore, if you have a little bit of fun. You don't have much time. If you have a little bit of fun, you can't do what you did before. And nobody expects that you want to be cared for. Everybody wants to be cared for.

I made such a mistake. I thought that woman really cared for me.


ROMANS: You can see much more of Anderson's exclusive interview with Donald Sterling tonight on "AC360", 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Yesterday, I sat down with Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. I asked him about a privacy app he has, a privacy app he has, Cyber Dust, and I asked also about Sterling and what the NBA could do. While he said he couldn't talk specifically about Donald Sterling, he compared the situation to fast food, interestingly, saying the NBA is a franchise operation. If you caught a (INAUDIBLE) spit in the fries, that owner would lose his franchise. He also said the price for the Clippers would be very high. Listen.


MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: The one thing this sale will change dramatically, right, and it happens to L.A. franchises. Frank McCourt ran the Dodgers into the ground, took it into bankruptcy and ended up making a billion plus dollars, if not more, when the team was sold for $2.1 billion. The same -- the L.A. Clippers franchise is going to sell far north, in my opinion --

ROMANS: You think so? Of a billion?

CUBAN: Oh yes, not even close.

ROMANS: Really?

CUBAN: Yes, not even close.


ROMANS: Books (ph) value the team at something like $575 million, so that's really interesting. Cuban also talked about Cyber Dust, that's the app he's backing that can make your texts disappear. It's all about privacy, right? We'll have much more of my interview with Mark Cuban coming up, including what he thinks of a tech bubble. Is there a tech bubble right now? The whole interview is going to air Saturday on "YOUR MONEY". You can go to to read more about what he said about the team, about texts, about Cyber Dust.

BLACKWELL: And now to Turkey where a coal mine explosion has killed more than 200 workers and hundreds more are trapped 500 yards under ground. Reporter Andrew Finkel has latest for us from Istanbul. He joins us by phone.

Andrew, how's the rescue effort going now? What's the latest there?

ANDREW FINKEL, REPORTER (via telephone): Well, the rescue operation continues. It's been nearly 20 hours since this fire erupted in a mine in Western Turkey, trapping a huge number of workers underground. Now, some of them have been rescued but we've had large reports of casualties -- 205 people we know have lost their lives.

But the fear is that this figure will rise dramatically because the fire continues to blaze. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a great danger that those still trapped face. So the authorities are really bracing us for really much, much worse news ahead, Victor?

BLACKWELL: For obvious reasons, a lot of the rescues happened early on soon after the explosion. In the last few hours, have there been -- and I imagine there's a trickle off -- but have there been rescues early this morning at this hour?

FINKEL: Well, there were some people who were rescued -- I believe five were rescued two hours ago, brought out of the mines. And there's hundreds of workers trying to find those still trapped. But of course it's very, very difficult. It's a very large mine. It's a very deep mine. And of course there are fires still blazing so it's actually a very difficult thing for the workers to get down and rescue those still believed trapped underneath the ground.

BLACKWELL: And paint a picture for us there. We are seeing the immediate moments after the explosion and the melee around this mine. But, at this hour, where are the families? What is their interaction?

FINKEL: Well, these mining communities are small communities. Everyone really is gathered around the (INAUDIBLE) head, the entrance to the mine, waiting for news. There's sort of terrible anxiety of families, brothers, sisters, daughters waiting to see if their loved ones are going to be the lucky ones to emerge from this mine alive. And there's scenes in front of the hospital in the neighborhood. There's not really enough room even to store these bodies; they are in cold storage depots. And many people are having to go there and identify their loved ones. It's a terrible picture.

BLACKWELL: It is, indeed. Andrew Finkel reporting for us this morning. Andrew, thank you.

And this morning there are new concerns about a mysterious virus spreading in this country. The TSA is now posting warning signs, here is one of them -- these are at airports about MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. And officials in Orlando, they say some health workers there, 20 of them possibly, may have been exposed after coming into contact with a patient who has a confirmed case of the illness. Now one of those workers is in the hospital; the others were told to stay at home. But health officials say the risk to the public for MERS remains low.

ROMANS: Happening right now, hundreds of acres torched but some good news this hour on the fire lines in California. The very latest on that ahead.

BLACKWELL: Plus, radio legend Casey Kasem reportedly missing. His children pleading for his safe return. We'll explain next.


ROMANS: Evacuation orders lifted near San Diego as firefighters move closer to full control of a fire that threatened thousands of homes. More than 800 acres burned in Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe but schools will be open this morning. And residents are being told they can now go home.

BLACKWELL: A Baltimore area man is in the hospital this morning being evaluated after police say he was responsible for this. Look. Ramming a dump truck repeatedly into a TV station just outside of Baltimore. Witnesses say the man demanded he be let inside, he was screaming and ranting, calling himself God. And when the staff refused, obviously, to open the doors, he drove the dump truck into the building instead and everyone inside, they got out safely. The suspect was eventually arrested inside the building where he was watching TV.

ROMANS: Ironically, they couldn't really cover their own story because they --

BLACKWELL: They had to get out of the building.

ROMANS: Because they had to get out of the building, so a very strange twist in a local TV story. Police this morning are trying to piece together what led to a deadly shooting, fire and explosion at a home in New Hampshire. Michael Nolan, suspected of shooting and killing a police officer, who went to the house to investigate a domestic dispute. But police say it's just not clear what led Nolan to allegedly pull a gun. He had no criminal history. The fire and the explosion, police say, was likely not an accident. Two sets of remains were found at the house, believed to be Nolan's and that of the officer, the responding police officer, Steve Arkell.

BLACKWELL: More fireworks expected today at the terror trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri. Tuesday, the fiery Muslim cleric lashed out at prosecutors, denying he advocated the killing of innocents. Well, al- Masri is accused of aiding kidnappers in Yemen, trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon, and inspiring a host of terrorists including 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. He's pleaded not guilty.

ROMANS: New developments in the FBI investigation into the man they call one of the most prolific pedophiles in history -- William Vahey, a teacher suspected of drugging and molesting boys across four continents. The FBI says it has now received hundreds of calls about Vahey, a man who killed himself in March. He worked at international schools often teaching children of the rich and powerful. Agents are trying to track down every possible victim.

This morning, two young children are in the hospital after a horrific accident. The inflatable Little Tikes bounce house they were playing in broke loose from the ground. And look at the picture there. It flew away with the boys inside. The two boys, age 5 and 6, suffered serious injuries. They fell from some 15 feet in the air. A 10-year- old girl they were playing with, she was also hurt but less seriously. All of this happened north of Albany. Neighbors say, from everything they saw, the family put the toy together properly and staked it down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything that could have been done wrong doesn't. Everything was done properly. That's the only thing I can say positively, that nothing was done wrong.


ROMANS: One witness called what happened like a horror movie. That the wind was so strong that it just pulled the stakes right out of the ground. And one of those little boy, he was thrown onto a road; the other one thrown into a car. Just terrifying, 5 and 6 years old.

BLACKWELL: May they recover quickly.

Alec Baldwin, he says New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity. That's his response on Twitter after his arrest for biking the wrong way on Fifth Avenue. I didn't know that that was a crime. Well, the actor was handcuffed and issued two summons, one for disorderly conduct, the other for hurling profanity.

ROMANS: That is a crime. BLACKWELL: OK, here it is. That's clear now. He's due in court on July 24th.

ROMANS: More trouble for Justin Bieber. Police in L.A. are investigating allegations the pop star stole a cell phone of a woman at a batting cage in Sherman Oaks. The web site TMZ says she claims Bieber demanded she delete any pictures she may have taken of him with her phone. She says, when she refused, he grabbed the phone from her purse. Police are not confirming any of this but they have been talking to the alleged victim.

BLACKWELL: Aw, JB, come on, man. Come on.

This morning, Casey Kasem's daughter says they want their father back. The 82-year-old radio legend has been missing for days. The daughters blame their stepmother and she is not saying anything.

Akiko Fujita has the latest from Los Angeles.

AKIKO FUJITA, REPORTER: Christine and Victor, Casey Kasem's daughters tell me their biggest concern right now is their father's help. He suffers from dementia and he needs medical care 24 hours a day. Now, all of this stems from a long and bitter legal fight between Kasem's current wife and her step-children. Kasem's daughters say they have no doubt Jean Kasem is behind this disappearance. Now, they just want to find their father.


FUJITA (voice-over): Casey Kasem was last seen at this convalescent hospital in Santa Monica on Tuesday, May 6th. His daughters, Julie and Kerri, say he was in great spirits then. He even uttered the words, I love you. But when their lawyer called to check in on him the next day, he says he was told by the hospital Casey had been removed overnight.

KERRI KASEM, DAUGHTER OF CASEY KASEM: It is our belief that my stepmother took him out of the facility. We believe she took him out against medical advice and took somewhere to an unknown destination so he wouldn't be able to see any of his family.

FUJITA: At this point, Jean Kasem's own lawyer says he has no idea where his client is. He told the judge Monday he believes she's out of the country now. That and concern for Casey's health prompted the judge to grant Kerri Kasem temporary conservatorship of her father. She says her stepmother has prevented Casey's friends and family from visiting or calling for years. She says she even tried to hire a security guard when the daughters came to the hospital.

KASEM: There's no regard for his safety or health. That was what was so upsetting. That was what was so, so upsetting.


FUJITA: Jean Kasem has said in court documents it's her stepchildren who are making the false claims. Now, the courts and family are all looking for Casey Kasem now, his daughters pleading with the public for any help, saying they just want their dad to come home soon. Christine and Victor?

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Akiko.

ROMANS: All right, breaking news in the Oscar Pistorius trial. A judge just moments ago putting the trial on hold, sending Pistorius for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. We are live with what these new developments mean for the case and for Pistorius, next.


BLACKWELL: Breaking news from the Oscar Pistorius trial where the judge has now just put the c ase on hold, ruling that the Olympic sprinter will have to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. Prosecutors asked for that after a psychiatrist testifying for the defense said Pistorius has an anxiety disorder and people with that condition could be a danger to society.

CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps is live at the courthouse in Pretoria. Kelly, it appears that this defense strategy of putting the psychiatrist on the stand possibly now has backfired. What do you think?

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, not necessarily. What was particularly interesting about the wording of the judge's decision today was the fact, on one hand, she's saying Mr. Nell (ph) won his application. But, on the other hand, she also affirmed the central importance of Merryl Foster's testimony, saying that it is clearly in line with Pistorius' evidence.

So, in other words, should it remain as a matter of court record, it would materially boost and reinforce Pistorius' testimony. And perhaps that is not something the state were expecting out of the judgment today. And should the referral end up resulting in a report that is substantially in line with Merryl Foster's report, that will in fact have backfired for the state because it will further strengthen Merryl Foster's evidence and it will mean that it remains as a central part of this court record when the judge retires to make her final verdict.

BLACKWELL: The prosecutor has said that the defense's strategy has been a moving target, essentially. Was this diagnosis of anxiety disorder, it's general anxiety, a part of the initial defense?

PHELPS: Well, it was part of the initial defense in the sense that it is very common course strategy, where a defendant raises the defense of mistaken belief in private offense, such as Mr. Pistorius has always done. You need some source of surrounding psychological evidence to support the accused' claim and also to provide something for the judge to compare and contrast what the accused says he was thinking at the time.

So it always would have been from that. What they wouldn't have foreseen is that a state prosecutor would essentially jump on that as an opportunity to try to force them into arguing a defense that they were, in fact, trying not to argue and had never been part of the strategy.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kelly Phelps for us in Pretoria. Thank you.

ROMANS: Really stunning development. And that's going to be interesting to follow, the delay and what it's going to mean for that case. We're going to be right back.


ROMANS: All right, welcome back. Two minutes to the top of the hour. That's a look at European stocks right now. Stocks there are near six-year highs. Six year highs, sound familiar? The Dow closed at another record Tuesday three days in a row. Another record for the Dow. The S&P 500 also hit a high in trading, at 1900. It didn't close above there but that's a psychological level for a lot of people in the market.

One sector that is lagging, though, tech. As the Dow and the S&P hit highs, the tech heavy Nasdaq is actually down a little bit for the year. And many investors, people like hedge fund heavyweight David Einhorn, they're warning of a tech bubble saying valuations for new companies are just too high based on little more than buzz. Buzz words and big name investors.

I asked Mark Cuban about that. Mark Cuban, of course, is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He's actually one of the first dot com billionaires. I asked him, is there a tech bubble?


ROMANS: Do you see a bubble in tech?

CUBAN: No. Not even close.

ROMANS: No bubble?

CUBAN: I mean, look, I wouldn't be sitting -- you wouldn't know who I was if it wasn't for a tech bubble, right?

ROMANS: Right.

CUBAN: And so it's easy to recognize. Now, why are stocks continuing to go up? Well, there's half as many public companies today as there used to be 15-20 years ago. And so there's more money chasing fewer companies -- stock prices are going to go up.


ROMANS: Cuban says you will know a bubble when people are walking down the street talking tech stocks. He says that's not happening yet. In fact, Cuban says he's still really excited about tech. He just launched app, Cyber Dust it's called. It's like Snapchat, but it incorporates text and doesn't save data on its servers. Cuban says it's one of the ways he's adapting technology in a world where we have no privacy.

He says, Victor, we have no privacy. We should be terrified by that fact.

BLACKWELL: And we've been covering stories of people (INAUDIBLE), laptops and cell phones.

EARLY START continues right now.