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San Diego Under Siege; Flight 370 Controversies; Turkey Swept by Protests

Aired May 16, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: California is burning. 10,000 acres torched, homes destroyed, communities devastated. This morning firefighters engage in a dangerous battle, and these flames have turned deadly. The very latest ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mounting questions but just no answers in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Families demanding investigators turn over evidence used to frame their search, but the Malaysian officials say they don't have the data. Why not? Can they be telling the truth here? This investigation takes another mysterious turn.

ROMANS: All right, Donald Sterling taking on the NBA, refusing to pay their fine for the racist remarks that left him banned for life. The L.A. Clippers owner could now be launching a new legal fight. The very latest ahead.

That "Sports Illustrated" reporting is really interesting on Donald Sterling. He is not going to go away easily.

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

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty-one minutes past the hour this Friday. And on this Friday, deadly, devastating fires are scorching San Diego County. One person has died, two people are in custody now, arrested on suspicion of arson.

Dozens of hotspots erupting without warning overnight. There have been homes torched, thousands forced to evacuate, exhausted firefighters scrambling to keep up with the calls.

I want you to listen to the terror in the voices of these men driving through a neighborhood that was engulfed in flames.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. There it is right there. There it is right there. Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Wow, just incredible pictures. Fires have now scorched over 10,000 acres. Horrified neighbors calling these conditions the worst they have ever seen by far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty much collapsed on the ground. It just seems so surreal. Like, I felt like a bomb hit or something, because everything's completely destroyed. It's so sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a three-bedroom, four-bath. Everything was in its place. I had everything that I possibly could want. It was absolutely gorgeous, and now it's all gone. All gone. What can I say? It's absolutely all gone, finished.


BERMAN: All gone.

Let's get the latest now from Ted Rowlands in the fire zone in the community of Carlsbad.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, as firefighters wake up in the next few hours here in San Diego County, they are hoping to have a little bit easier day than they did yesterday. The flames yesterday were just simply incredible. Some of the footage from San Marcos, a fire that really broke out late in the day yesterday, were just absolutely incredible with flames shooting high up into the air, with that tornado fire effect.

Incredibly, when you look at that footage, you think to yourself, there had to have been dozens and dozens of homes lost. Incredibly, only two houses right in that area where you see that neighborhood, looks like the fire is just on top of it, only two homes were lost there.

A handful of structures in total have been lost. This home, obviously, is a complete loss. The homeowners were here yesterday, heartbreaking just -- it's heartbreaking to watch. And then they came in, and as you can see, there is not much left. They looked around, tried to find mementos, things that were left. And quite frankly, there just isn't much here. But firefighters have done a fantastic job of mobilizing, working together.

And you think back to 2003, the San Diego devastating fires there. After that happened, they re--jiggered the entire plan, and this was really a test. And so far, so good. Firefighters have literally saved thousands and thousands of homes.

That said, this firefight continues. Eight total fires, one fatality which was reported late in the day yesterday, a homeless person who was caught in the fire here in the Carlsbad area. Other than that, no other significant injuries. A handful of structures down. Fire still burning, but firefighters hoping to get the upper hand as the sun comes up -- guys.

ROMANS: All right, Ted Rowlands, thanks for that.

Whipping winds, 100-plus-degree temperatures fueling these flames, of course. Indra Petersons tracking that forecast for us -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're really hoping today will be better conditions and it will be slightly, but they still are under an elevated risk for fire danger out there. Again, the concern, the first part of this has been this record-breaking heat. You had this unbelievable heat combined with these strong winds out there.

Santa Ana, look at this, they shattered the previous record by 25 degrees. These are coastal areas where we're talking about temperatures in the 90s and triple digits. So that's the first part of the equation, but the biggest part is how much fuel is available and how much moisture is out there. Drought conditions across the entire state of California. Why? Because of this huge deficit of rainfall, we're talking about maybe 5 to 10 inches in the region below average.

But of course, this is something that's been going season after season. It doesn't take one season. So in order to get out of the drought conditions, just to give you perspective, it would take about 12 inches of rainfall in one month, obviously something that is not going to be happening past their rainy season.

The good news, they do need good news, and there's a little bit heading their way, they're already seeing the humidity rebounding in the overnight hours. That's the biggest thing that will help those firefighters. Of course, as you go throughout the day, the temperatures go up, the humidity goes down, but it won't go as long as the single digits, today only about 20 percent, 25 percent. That's the good news there, and it's only going to get better.

The high pressure is bringing those strong canyon winds. That is going to be moving out, the onshore flow is going to be coming in, bringing that humidity and eventually the temperatures is down, but what really is the key is the humidity, and that is returning with that marine layer by tomorrow.


ROMANS: All right. Indra Petersons -- thanks, Indra.

A growing mystery now this morning over who has the raw satellite data that was used to determine Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the Southern Indian Ocean. The families of the 239 people on board have been demanding to see this data for weeks, but now Malaysian officials claim they don't have it.

Let's get more now from CNN's Jim Clancy.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mystery of what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 remains unanswered 70 days after it vanished. But a new controversy may have been discovered. Who has the raw satellite data and why that might or might not matter. Some family members want to see the raw satellite data in order to check whether the search operation is even in the right place as it tries to find that Boeing 777. Some aviation analysts agree. But the man in charge of the investigation insists he doesn't have it.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: The raw data is with Inmarsat, not with Malaysia, not with Australia, not with MAS. So if there is any request for this raw data to be made available to the public, it must be made to Inmarsat.

CLANCY: Now, Inmarsat, the company that owns those satellites, insists it's already shared what it has. That information was first shown to the Malaysians in a presentation from a laptop computer, and to this day, as we heard, the Malaysians say they don't have any raw data.

Angus Houston, head of the search operation, says it may be a matter of proprietary information. The satellite company isn't required to divulge its trade secrets. Inmarsat shared the conclusions that were reached by a panel of experts who analyzed that raw data. That's not the same as making the raw data public.

Family members in China have been the most vocal in their demands for complete transparency. They fear facts are being hidden from them. Would it make any difference? Australian search coordinator Angus Houston, again, told CNN this, "No, I don't think so. There's been a lot of expertise supporting their analysis. Some of the world's best experts in this field. And they're all pretty satisfied the analysis withstands close scrutiny."

That's reassuring, but it's not going to make the controversy go away.

Jim Clancy, CNN.

BERMAN: Our thanks to Jim for that.

Embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says he is mad as head and he is not resigning. The retired army general taking a beating from members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. They're demanding answers following a CNN report that details dozens of patient deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix after long treatment delays. Shinseki insists it's too early to be casting blame.


ERIC SHINSEKI, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: If any allegations are true, they're completely unacceptable to me, to veterans, and I will tell you, the vast majority of dedicated VHA employees who come to work every day to do their best by those veterans. If any are substantiated by the inspector general, we will act.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Have you fired any administrators who were responsible for veterans dying due to delayed care?

SHINSEKI: We have taken action against senior leaders.

GRIFFIN: Fired? SHINSEKI: I would include -- yes, them being removed from VA.


BERMAN: Since November, CNN has uncovered long treatment delays at VA facilities across the country and attempts by staffers to cover them up.

ROMANS: An EARLY START on your money this morning. Stocks in Europe turning lower just now after moving between slight gains and slight losses all morning. Dow futures flat after two days of triple-digit drops for the average.

We've get an inside look at Warren Buffett's playbook this morning. Yes, what does Buffett buy? Berkshire Hathaway bought up shares of Verizon last quarter, that investment total about $500,000. Meantime, Berkshire sold sales of GM. Buffett recently praised the CEO Mary Barra to CNN Money saying he was impressed when he met her but that didn't stop the company from cashing out on a quarter of its GM shares.

The carmaker announced another recall yesterday, by the way, involving almost three million cars. One of the vehicles involved in the recall was first flagged as early as 2008. A technical bulletin in 2008 about a certain problem with some tail lamp wiring. And now a recall, what, eight years later. So it shows maybe a new aggressive GM, they want --

BERMAN: A more aggressive GM.

ROMANS: A more aggressive GM. That's right.

BERMAN: Let's talk about the business of basketball now. Donald Sterling not going down without a fight, according to "Sports Illustrated." The banned Clippers owner has told the NBA he will not pay a $2.5 million fine. He plans to sue the league because he says he did nothing wrong.

This news was reportedly delivered in a letter from Sterling's new attorney, prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher. CNN has reached out to the NBA and Sterling and has not been able to independently confirm this report, but if true, man, oh, man, this could get ugly.


All right, wind, rain, flooding, even tornadoes. The East Coast slammed by severe storms and the threat isn't over. Indra Petersons tracking who needs to be on alert today, right after the break.


BERMAN: Whole lot of weather to talk about on the East Coast. Dangerous weather on tap today. There's the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding from the western Carolinas all the way to western Pennsylvania. ROMANS: Oh no.

BERMAN: Get ready for some serious flight delays from New York and Washington, D.C.

ROMANS: That's right.

Take a look at the ferocious storm that rocked Miami Thursday. The winds so fierce, that's a dumpster just sliding across the parking lot right into an SUV. There was flooding, downed power lines all over the city. A weak tornado uprooting trees and doing some damage near Miami International Airport. This is one witness describing the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This car and that car was all, you know, they were tilting back and forth, and it was pretty scary. There was an airplane in the air, and it sounded like it was about to, you know, fall. We were just trying to get to, like, you know, a small room.


ROMANS: Wow. Let's get an early look at the Friday forecast now with Indra Petersons -- Indra.

PETERSONS: Great, right as you toss to me for the weekend forecast.


BERMAN: It's going to rain, right?

PETERSONS: Yes, and it's going to rain and it's going to rain a lot. I think you guys covered that. This is the problem, when you have a very slow-moving cold front. We still have the flooding concerns today stretching from New York really kind of just into Virginia here. This is going to be the concern as we watch that same system that is out there.

One of the problems is look at all the moisture that's available. All this moisture is lining up exactly where that slow-moving system is. If you're talking about rain lasting in the same place for long periods of time, and some places heavy rain in short periods of time for a long time. If that makes sense. So there you go, you're currently seeing the radar, already seeing the rain out there, it's expected to only increase especially into the northeast as we go throughout the day.

Mid-Atlantic, that's where the flooding concerns are going to be the highest, about 2 to 4 inches expected there, spreading into the northeast, about 1 to 2 inches of rain is going to be in that region. In through tomorrow, we're still going to be talking about that system but eventually making its way offshore.

By Saturday, Boston, it's going to linger a little bit longer, but another little system will be out there, kind of a short wave, scattered showers, but just enough that you may know you could get a few showers out there. Most people on the east coast not so pretty on Friday, but by Saturday and Sunday, it does improve as you go to the second half of the weekend. At least there is a plus in there somewhere.

ROMANS: You are redeemed. You are redeemed, Indra Petersons.

PETERSONS: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Indra Petersons, bringing us rain. What is "NEW DAY" going to bring us? Chris Cuomo --

ROMANS: Chris Cuomo.

BERMAN: Joins us right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: I bring you fire, John and Christine. I bring you fire.


CUOMO: If only the rains on the East Coast could be shifted to the west.


CUOMO: They are up against more than they can handle in southern California. Take a look. Now here's part of the phenomenon with this particular line of burn they're dealing with. You see that? It's called a firenado, and the obvious reason. It looks like a tornado, although instead of coming from the top to the ground, it goes from the ground up.

Why? Why so many this time? Overnight firefighters literally were trying to beat back the blaze, still not happening. Tens of thousands have been evacuated.

This is really the worst they've dealt with in some time. Making it even worse, two kids have now been arrested. Was this all started by something intentional? We'll take you through the latest and we'll take you to the fires.

Also, a very strange story out of Texas. Have you heard about this? A woman said she was 15, enrolled as a sophomore in high school, but it winds up she is actually 34. What is going on? She's been arrested and charged. Why did she do this? We're going to dig into it. It's a fascinating story.

So I bring you that on this Friday, John and Christine.

BERMAN: Romans has been telling me she's 23, so are you in any kind of legal jeopardy?

CUOMO: Romans -- Romans looks 23. ROMANS: Oh, Cuomo, I love you.

CUOMO: And you also look very fetching, John Berman, almost as if you are freshly quaffed, is that true?

BERMAN: Indeed, indeed I am. Thank you for noticing. I will take that with me throughout the weekend. Chris Cuomo, thanks very much.

ROMANS: Cuomo is buttering me up at the end of the week.

BERMAN: Yes. Both of us there.

ROMANS: I'll take that.

BERMAN: What does he want?

ROMANS: I don't know. We'll find out soon.

All right, a national tragedy turning to fury in Turkey. Hundreds of miners killed in that devastating explosion. And you know what, now people want answers. They're taking to the streets and asking how could this happen? We're live with what's happening on the ground right after the break.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back, everyone. Violent demonstrations on the streets of Turkey in the wake of this week's tragic mine explosion. Thousands of workers joining a nationwide protest strike while thousands clash with security forces, demanding to know why hundreds of miners -- why hundreds of miners died.

Let's get the latest from Diana Magnay. She's in Soma, in Turkey.

And Diana, we understand the mine owner is speaking publicly for the first time, denying that there was any negligence in this case.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly, and it's three days after that accident happened. It was Tuesday early afternoon, and only now has the company come out and made any kind of explanation as to how this terrible loss of life could have happened. The death toll now, John, is 284. According to the energy minister, there is still 18 missing, 18 who he says will be included in the death toll.

It's already Turkey's worst industrial accident. The company now saying that it does not consider itself to have been negligent in terms of safety, whilst at the same time admitting that there were no existing safety refuge chambers for workers, for miners to go to. This was because, apparently, on the top level of the mine, there used to be a refuge chamber where you could have gone if there was a fire, with your oxygen mask and then got more air, and it would have been a safe place.

But work had moved to the lower level of the mine, so that emergency room was decommissioned. And in the lower levels, they were constructing an emergency room, but there wasn't actually one for any of the workers to go to. And then they finished off by saying, and anyway, legally, we're not obliged to build these sorts of safety chambers. So that, too, is not going to go down very well in a country which is already very angry at the way that this affair has been handled.

The prime minister came here two days ago, John, and said some very insensitive comments. He basically said that accidents are just part of what happens in mining. It's not an accident-prone industry, and he started listing off examples as far back as Britain in the 19th century, as to how mining accidents can incur huge loss of life. And then there was an incident where an aide of his actually kicked a protester who had come out to register his dismay at what went on.

So both the company and the government looking very bad in the eyes of the Turkish people. And in these days of national tragedy -- John.

BERMAN: And the political unrest could grow there in the coming days.

Diana Magnay for us in Soma. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, coming up, a nervous day on Wall Street. One prominent hedge fund heavyweight sending a chill through the markets. Should you be paying close attention to your 401(k) today?


BERMAN: All right, welcome back, everyone. Let's get an EARLY START on your money.

Christine Romans, riddle me this, what the heck is going on with stocks?

ROMANS: I know, yesterday was really ugly. It was the worst day in like five weeks. The week started with record highs., John, and then turned to fear now by the end of the week. This is the early look at Euro markets, European markets and U.S. futures. Question -- big question now, is it time to be worried? Hedge fund heavyweight David Tepper, he says yes, why do we care what he says? He's the highest paid hedge fund manager in the country. He made $3.5 billion for himself last year.

At a big hedge fund conference in Vegas, he said, quote, "There is a time to make money. This is a time not to lose money," right? I think it is a nervous time.

BERMAN: There is a season, turn, turn --

ROMANS: Housing starts later this morning could drive trading today.

All right, do you think like a freak? The Freakonomics guys have a new book out -- I love those guys. They sat down with author Steven Dubner. I asked him, how can change your thinking get you ahead at work?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN DUBNER, AUTHOR, "THINK LIKE A FREAK": It's astonishing how easy it is to go through life without really making up your own mind about a whole lot of things. You accept the conventional wisdom. We're going to do a project, how should we do it? Why don't we do it just like the last people did it and maybe we'll tweak it a little bit. So, thinking, period, is the first step.


ROMANS: Thinking, period, but don't always just fall into conventional wisdom. We have more tips from Dubner on "YOUR MONEY" tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And you read those books, right? The economic books?

BERMAN: I have. I have.

ROMANS: They're good.

BERMAN: I'm just captivated by the idea of thinking. Want to try that. All right.

ROMANS: Thinking, imagine.

BERMAN: "NEW DAY" starts right now.