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Twin Twister Tearing Through Midwest; Crisis in Iraq: U.S. to Bring in More Troops; Team USA Wins World Cup Opener

Aired June 17, 2014 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Look at that.

Twin twisters tearing through the Midwest, leaving a deadly trail of destruction this morning. Two people killed, more than a dozen others in the hospital. We are live with the damage and the storm that had been raging overnight.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Crisis in Iraq. The U.S. bringing in more troops as it explores an unlikely partnership with Iran, working together to stop terrorists from bringing the country to chaos. We're live in Iraq with what's happening right now.

BERMAN: And a stunning start for the U.S. and a miraculous finish. This in the first game of its 2014 World Cup run. The historic win and what comes next for the United States. Just ahead.

ROMANS: Those guys were so tired. That was some -- they were so tired, dragging themselves.

BERMAN: Their effort was heroic over 90-plus minutes.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, June 17. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's get started here with this devastation in the Midwest. Overnight, severe storms pounding parts of Wisconsin, overturning cars, flattening homes. This happening in Platteville. That's not far from Lacrosse.

The University of Wisconsin campus there is said to have suffered major damage. It will be close. The University of Wisconsin- Platteville will be closed today. No word yet in injuries, but it came from the same system that caused this in northeastern Nebraska, twin tornadoes leaving destruction and heart break. At least one person was killed and other 16 critically injured.

This morning, search crews still picking through the rubble, looking for victims and survivors.

Now, storm chasers, rather, captured these amazing pictures of twin tornadoes as they grazed across farm fields. And they were churning up everything they came across. You can see the debris flying. The raw power of these storms, lightning and rain accompanying the winds that ripped towns like Pilger apart, where homes and businesses used to stand. This morning, it's rubble.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whole blocks of houses are destroyed. All of the business district, our co-op is gone. All the grain bins are gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there were three houses, which are gone. There were three houses on the opposite side of the block that are gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about your sister's house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's gone. It was on the corner and it's gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost everything.


BERMAN: Our meteorologist Indra Petersons live on the ground in Nebraska.

Indra, give us a sense of what it looks like this morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's so hard to say, when you talk two twin tornadoes, such a rare sight. Two almost identical, large tornadoes, moved through this area yesterday, around 4:00 p.m. I'm currently standing on Interstate 15 here, and you can see right behind me is where these tornadoes wiped the town out. We are talking six or seven blocks look just like this. The town about 350 people, this morning, they're saying only about 50 percent, if not 75 percent of this town is completely leveled.

Now, right here behind me, so hard to tell this was a two-story structure, likely a wooden structure, completely leveled down to the ground. You can actually see a refrigerator well into the distance there. It's dark right now, but it's a cinder block base in the distance there. Even the top structure of that has been leveled.

So, that's what they're dealing with this morning, so hard for them. The residents here were actually evacuated. State of emergency is currently in effect here, all the residents are now evacuated to the city just nearby.

Now, here is the concern today, more severe weather is still in the forecast. You can see the thunderstorms currently heading toward places like Chicago, even Detroit. Put it in perspective, yesterday, we're talking about 14 million of you looking at severe weather today, 44 million of you will have that threat for severe weather. It only extends even further.

So, by the time we get through Wednesday, we'll include cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, but we're going to spend that even further towards Philadelphia and even New York City. So, 77 million people by Wednesday will be dealing with this storm system. That's going to be the concern.

Now, the other side of this is the heavy rain in places like Chicago. They are looking at a lot of lightning right now. They're looking for two to five inches of rain that will eventually spread into the northeast as well, several inches, kind of more of the scattered shower nature there.

But, of course, the bigger story a lot of people talking about into the Northeast, at least, will be the extreme heat. We're talking about temperatures now climbing well above normal. We are talking mid-90s in places like D.C. You can combine that with all that humidity out of the south and they're going to have that concern for, of course, heat exhaustion there as well.

But, of course, what a terrible sight this morning. You are talking six, if not seven blocks looking just like this. Very hard to pick even anything out of this rubble this morning.

BERMAN: Quite a sight this morning. And, again, the need to pay attention to this in a lot of the country for the next few days.

Indra Petersons on the ground in Nebraska for us, thanks so much.

We move to the crisis in Iraq. This morning, militants tightening their grip and working their way closer and closer to Baghdad. President Obama hasn't announced a decision on what the U.S. might do to help Iraq fight back against ISIS, that's the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

But the president did meet with his national security team late into the evening, and told Congress he's sending hundreds of military personnel into Iraq to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Still right now, it looks like it is up to the Iraqis to protect themselves from ISIS.

Our Arwa Damon is live in Erbil this morning, the Kurdish region.

Arwa, give us a sense of the latest situation on the ground.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iraqi's capabilities to protect themselves is what is really being thrown into question at this stage, although they do seem to be mounting much more of a defense, resistance as ISIS and Sunni allies get closer to Baghdad. The front lines at this stage, about 45 minutes, an hour drive away north of the capital.

There has been a lot of debate whether or not the U.S. should launch airstrike against ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. That, at this stage, not on the table, though, it is one of the options that President Obama is considering with the U.S. sending more manpower and firepower into the region. One of the main concerns, of course, is the sheer brutality of an organization like ISIS.

Horrific videos of executions have been rising on the Internet, being posted brazenly by ISIS fighters. In one video, you see a bearded man standing over five individuals who were members of the Iraqi border guard. He's ordering them to repeat after him things.

Islamic state here to stay, two of the men managed to do so. The third appears to be struggling. He seems to be dehydrated. Not fully aware of what's happening around him. He's pushed back. A gun pointed to his neck. And then, in another video, he's seen dead.

The individual who carried out these executions, proudly boasting of having killed Shia, even putting photographs on his Facebook where he's telling friends to circulate the photographs as a warning to all of the Shia, clearly an effort for sectarian violence here. Often times, we don't know who these victims are. But in this case, we actually did manage to figure out the identity of the man who was the one who's struggling so much to speak.

And he was a father of three. He had two sons, a daughter. He has taken the job with the border guard because he wanted to build them a new home, and that is one of the examples of the sure brutality that is raging across this country -- John.

BERMAN: It's an awful thing, Arwa, and our hearts go out to those families right there going through this again in that nation that's already seen so much turmoil. Arwa Damon for us in Erbil -- thank you so much.

Another big blow to tell you about from General Motors this morning, recalling 3.4 million more vehicles for a problem similar to an ignition switch defect linked to 13 deaths. G.M. recalled about 2.6 million vehicles in February, more than a decade after learning of that. This year, alone, G.M. has recalled a staggering 20 million vehicles for various issues.

So, this new announcement comes as the CEO Mary Barra testified before a House subcommittee tomorrow. This should make that hearing even more interesting.

ROMANS: It sure will.

All right. Time for an EARLY START on your money this morning.

European stocks are up. Asian stocks ended their mixed. Futures here pointing higher, small gains on Wall Street yesterday, giving global stocks a bit of a boost. All three major indices ended the day slightly higher, just a little bit. Concerns about the worsening situation in Iraq, though, still weighing on the market. Oil prices backing down a bit from $107 a barrel.

A brand new one on CNN Money this morning. A Social Security cash crunch to tell you about. If lawmakers don't act in the next year or two, the trust fund for social security disability benefits will be insolvent. That fund is different from retirement benefits. That means in two to three years, the program will only be able to pay out 80 percent of promised benefits to 8.8 million disabled workers.

Of course, there's a promise to those workers, so the money would have to come from someplace else. Experts say Congress will probably wait until the last minute to fix it. New details this morning about the cost of a congressional fix for the

Department of Veterans Affairs. The Congressional Budget Office says a Senate-approved bill will double the cost of health care for veterans. Both the Senate and House have approved plans that require the V.A. to pay for some veterans' visits to private doctors.

BERMAN: The head of the IRS now trying to explain how thousands of e- mails connected to the alleged targeted conservative groups were lost in a computer crash. John Koskinen went to Capitol Hill late last evening to meet with members of the Senate Finance Committee. He is insisting the IRS turned over all the e-mails they could find from Lois Lerner. Thousands of e-mails were just lost when Lerner's hard drive crashed. Now, they are trying to find them on other computers.


JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Every e-mail that she sent to anyone to the 82 other people that are in the system, all those e-mails, to the extent that they're still existing, were found. So, the 24,000 e- mails in that period are kind of in the mirror. Everybody she sent one to, just because her hard drive crashed didn't mean that their hard drive crashed. So, they have those emails. That's why they were able to find 24,000 for this period.


BERMAN: Some of the senators that meet with Koskinen last night say they were not satisfied with his answers. And as you can imagine, some of those senators, Republicans, suspect a cover up.

ROMANS: President Obama set to make a major step today in support of gay rights. The president will sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As it stands now, federal law does not protect LGBT workers from being denied employment. Legislation to change that is stalled in Congress.

BERMAN: All right. The Berman and Romans families all up past our bedtimes, why? Because of a thrilling and amazing start for the U.S. in World Cup. This was a 2-1 win over Ghana.

This was the first goal. Clint Dempsey with nifty moves up front before putting in the back of the net right there. That was 30 seconds into the game. That's the fastest score by an American in World Cup history, fastest score ever.

All right. So, what happened was Ghana tied it up. Here is the Dempsey goal, again. I mean, I can't get enough of that. It was 30 seconds in that game. It really set the tone for the entire match.

ROMANS: And the Americans led all the way to the 86th minute.

BERMAN: Into the 86 minutes, Ghana tied it up. And, really, Ghana controlled the whole game. Frankly, the U.S. was lucky to be in the game. Ghana ties it, 1-1, late in the game. The U.S. persevered and I hope we have pictures of it. We don't have a picture of it. I'm going to describe it to you. It

didn't look anything like this. After Ghana tied it up, on the corner kick, John Brooks, he's all of 21 years old, one American parent, one German parent. John Brooks who came in as a substitute in the second half, headed in a corner kick, picture perfect header.

ROMANS: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: It was an amazing, miraculous finish.

Next up for the U.S. team is Portugal. That's on Sunday.

ROMANS: That header was perfect down -- it was just lovely.

BERMAN: I screamed so loud by 7-year-old son said, daddy, why are you being so weird.

ROMANS: I know. We say that to Berman every single day. Why are you being so weird?

BERMAN: All right. Happening now, a desperate search to find three teenagers said to be kidnapped by terrorists. Israel issuing the biggest crackdown on Hamas in decades. We're live with what's happening this morning.

Plus, Hillary Clinton revealing a new factor that could determine if she runs for president.

ROMANS: And Justin Bieber, soon, could be charged with a felony. The price he may have to pay for a prank gone too far, ahead.


ROMANS: A new warning this morning from Israel, as it continues its search for three teenagers, including an American citizen kidnapped in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there will be grave consequences if these teams are not set free. He blamed Hamas for taking them, something Hamas denied.

Let's get the latest from Ben Wedeman this morning. He's live in the West Bank.

You know, Ben, the government has already rounded up hundreds of people as part of its search, its investigation. Any sense they are closer to finding these three young men?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Christine, we're five days into this kidnapping and really no sign of these three teenagers. The Israeli Army is launching this massive or conducting this massive search throughout the West Bank. We saw overnight that they went to Jenin and Nablus in the northern part of the West Bank, in Jenin, there were some fairly severe clashes with Palestinians who, of course, object to the presence of Israeli forces in those areas.

At this point, we understand from the Israeli military that at least 200 people have been detained, as part of this effort overnight, 41 detained, in various parts of the West Bank. And if you listen to the words coming out of, for instance, the Israeli army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, he is saying they are preparing for an even bigger operation. So, it's already tense and it looks like it's just going to get worse, Christine.

ROMANS: Tell us what we know about who has these young men. Has there any word on where they could be? Or what someone wants for them?

WEDEMAN: Well, there have been many claims of responsibility. But, really, none of them are from -- you can't really rely on these. There was one claim we saw yesterday from a faction that's actually affiliated with the president, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and they claim that the three teenagers are still alive, they are well. They're not into Hebron area, where we are, and that they will soon provide proof that they are holding them. That was 24 hours ago.

So, despite the claims by the Israelis that they are certain it is Hamas, we have yet to know, have any idea whatsoever about the identity of the kidnappers -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Ben Wedeman for us in West Bank this morning -- thanks, Ben.

BERMAN: Eighteen minutes after the hour.

Tracy Morgan on the mend this morning. A publicist for the comedian says Morgan has been upgraded from critical to fair condition and starting to act like his old self. The 45-year-old broke his leg and in several ribs in a highway crash earlier this month. This crash kills fellow comedian James McNair. The truck driver pled not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Prosecutors say the driver had been awake for 24 hours before his truck slammed into Morgan's limo bus.

ROMANS: All right. Good news on the fire lines near Bakersfield, California. Evacuation orders have been lifted for hundreds of residents. These fire crews are making significant progress. It's only after it destroyed at least three homes. The fire burned through 26 acres in and around Sequoia National Forest.

BERMAN: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it's about time the U.S. had a female leader but says it maybe not her. Clinton tells a German magazine that the U.S. lags behind many countries that have had women leading the government, including Germany, Chile and Brazil, and she says she will work to make sure a woman is in the White House. Of course, you may have heard she has not publicly announced whether or not she will run for president in 2016.

That's likely to be one of the big questions asked in tonight's CNN town hall with Hillary Clinton. This is a very exciting event. Be sure to tune in tonight at 5:00 p.m. Eastern and again at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. A chance for people to ask Hillary anything they want.

ROMANS: Yes, moderated by Christiane, right? Christiane Amanpour.

BERMAN: Christiane Amanpour will moderate that.

Again, very timely, very interesting. Iraq could be a subject. The election could be a subject. Benghazi could be a subject.

ROMANS: There's a lot to talk about.

All right. Criminal charges could be coming for Justin Bieber. A source tells CNN that prosecutors in Los Angeles are close to deciding how to handle an egging incident involving Bieber's neighbor. The neighbor and police accuse the pop star of throwing eggs at the neighbor's home. CNN has learned Bieber could be charged with felony vandalism. He's been cleared in a separate investigation after a woman accused him of stealing her cell phone.

Insert Bieber commentary.

BERMAN: I know. Thus ends our Bieber file this morning.

ROMANS: All right. So, let's turn on to something I'm very excited about. Team USA, what a night! The big goal, the big win. America getting past Ghana for the first time in World Cup. Joe Carter that has details in the "Bleacher Report", that's next.


ROMANS: Finally, this is good news. This is just unequivocal good news.

BERMAN: Beyond good news. It was an amazing start and a miraculous finish for team USA and their first game in the World Cup. This was an historic win. I've got to say, you know, we have soccer fever. You have to come along with us.

ROMANS: Yes. Joe Carter has more on the "Bleacher Report" -- Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, guys. I love this. I love the unity now that our country is feeling the next few weeks. I just love the red, white and blue across the country. But if there's one thing Americans know how to do, it's throw a fantastic party. Of course, all over the country yesterday, soccer fans, were rooting on the men's national team, great video from Chicago for you here. This is at Grant Park.

Look at that. Love the energy. Love it. In the 86th minute of the game, 21-year-old John Brooks, listed as a sub scores the game winner. You have to give it up for the bench warmer, now national hero. And these folks in Kansas City are going nuts, crazy after the game- winning goal.

What a win for Team USA against a Ghana team that beat us in the previous two World Cups.

So, now, looking ahead, the next big game is Sunday, against Portugal. Portugal got smoked yesterday by Germany, 4-0. Thanks to the witch doctor. That game is going to be Sunday, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I can't imagine how much great video we'll get Sunday night from all those watch parties.

So, the Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup in three years. And as you can imagine, the city of L.A. is super excited. The mayor, Eric Garcetti, he got a little caught up in the moment yesterday at the championship parade. Take a listen.


ERIC GARCETTI, L.A. MAYOR: There are two rules in politics. They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear, but this is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) day. Way to go, guys!



CARTER: Very well put.

Well, it's been 25 years since Pete Rose was banned for Major League Baseball for life. And last night, he returned to the baseball diamond for one game to manage an independent minor league team. It's the first time Pete Rose has managed any team since he managed the Cincinnati Red Sox in '89. And after the game, he said, if I'm ever reinstated, meaning Major League Baseball, and given a second chance, I'll never need a third chance.

So, back to the U.S. men's soccer team real quick, guys, John, I'm sure you were enjoying the game with the kids yesterday and enjoyed the party. I was watching -- saw John Brooks scored the goal, went to the Internet real quick, to learn more about this player. And I found his Wikipedia page. And it said John Brooks is a soccer player and the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln.

BERMAN: I saw that, too.

And for that moment -- for that moment after the game, arguably true. What a beautiful, beautiful header for him. And as you say, let's hear it for the bench warmer, came in in the second half. His first World Cup. Let's hope --

CARTER: I believe I heard yesterday, the announcer say it's the first time in World Cup history a substitute scored a goal for the U.S. team.

BERMAN: Yes, it never happened before. A whole lot of firsts, first time beating Ghana at the World Cup.

Joe Carter, great to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

CARTER: Good to see you, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-seven minutes after the hour. A lot of news to tell you about this morning. Twin tornadoes, amazing pictures, tearing towns into pieces. It's a terrifying scene playing out. These storms are moving through the country.

We are live with what they left behind, with who needs to be on the watch this morning. That's right after the break.