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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Arthur Gains Strength; Unemployment Rate Falls; Wildfire Threatens Napa Homes; Video Captures Hit and Run; Judge Decides Toddler Hot-Car Death Charges; Three Years Since Casey Anthony Walked Free; Outrage in California Over Growing Border Crisis
Aired July 3, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Canceled and rescheduled, Fourth of July plans up and down the East Coast are being affected as Hurricane Arthur spin along the shore.
@THISHOUR, we have a new look at the hurricane's path.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Think traffic is bad now? Your road trip or commute to work could get even worse. We'll tell you why.
BERMAN: And permission to juice? A new book says major league baseball gave a-rod the OK to use testosterone back in 2007. That's one of the years the Yankee third baseman won the MVP.
Hello, everyone. Great to see you today. I'm John Berman.
PEREIRA: As opposed to every other day, John?
BERMAN: Every day I'm happy to see you, especially you today.
PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira. So good to have you with us, those stories and much more, right now, @THISHOUR.
Obviously weather is the top story because we got a new weather advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Arthur is building strength and it's headed up the East Coast.
Right now it is just off the coast of South Carolina. It strengthened overnight and it is being classified right now as a Category 1 storm, certainly going to affect a whole lot of people's Fourth of July plans.
BERMAN: Indeed. Towns and cities have radically altered fireworks plans from Ocean City, Maryland, to the greatest celebration of all, the Boston Pops on the Esplanade. They're doing their show a day early.
A part of North Carolina's outer banks under a mandatory evacuation at this point. The hurricane makes driving hazardous, could cause rip currents as well and flooding, all on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Indra Petersons, right where that storm is headed in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Indra, give us a sense of how things look right now.
INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, here's the thing. This latest update continues to tell us this system is more powerful than we even predicted earlier.
Right now we've seen it pick up strength, currently seeing steady winds at 90 miles per hour. It is now forecasted to be a Category 2 -- let me say that again -- a Category 2 hurricane, overnight tonight making a direct landfall here in the outer banks between this evening and the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Right now, where is the system? It's about 90 miles offshore of Charleston, South Carolina, but it's making its way up the coast, so what you're going to be seeing is these conditions deteriorating.
If you look around right now, it's a beautiful day. So many people are here for the Fourth of July. They're enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately, a lot of people continue to go in the water. This is a strong concern for us these very strong rip currents are here ahead of the storm, during the storm, and after the storm.
But again, continues will deteriorate this evening. Where does the storm go after that? It's expected to make landfall at 100 miles per hour, but then it quickly moves off to the northeast, staying south of the northeast, but if you look at the far western portion of the track, we could see those impacts towards Cape Cod on the evening of the Fourth of July.
Then, it still makes its way to Halifax. It does hit colder waters, though, so there will be what we called a remnant low. It just deteriorates over Halifax.
But so much to be concerned with, guys, with things really expected to change, especially as each model run really intensifies the system.
PEREIRA: We know, as you mentioned, those rip currents are a concern, both before, during, and after, but what else are we looking at here that's a concern, flash flooding? What else?
PETERSONS: It's such a good point you brought that up, Michaela, because we've been through this before here at least in the Outer Banks back in 2011 with Irene.
You talked about a very strong storm surge there, so you are talking about still in this event four to six feet of storm surge. What happened in Irene was the actual highway, Highway 12, it broke in two places, so that's really fresh in a lot of people's minds. That's why that mandatory evacuation is in place today.
Still some heavy rainfall, three to five inches, and the system expected to make its biggest impact during high tide, so you have to add all of those factors together, currently already seeing 25 foot waves right around Arthur, all of that only makes its way closer.
I know right now the waves, yeah, they are picking up a little, but these aren't huge waves by any means. This is going to change overnight tonight. We're expecting about 15- if not 20-foot waves by this evening.
PEREIRA: Yeah, that temptation is, while it's still nice, people want to head out but all of the authorities locally there are saying, folks, make other plans, stay away from the water, as beautiful as it is and tempting as it is to kite surfers and surfers, not safe. It's just not safe.
BERMAN: Don't do it, this storm already more powerful than we thought it was going to be.
Indra Petersons, thanks very for being with us. We know you will be watching this all day and all night.
Another big story to tell you about right now, good news, really good news, on the economy, 288,000 jobs added last month, more than many economists predicted.
The Labor Department calls the job gains widespread, including some higher wage-jobs, not just in the service sector.
PEREIRA: And look at that unemployment rate. It fell to 6.1 percent. That's the lowest since before the recession.
Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans has already been having a busy day as has Alison Kosik. She's watching the markets from the New York Stock Exchange.
Christine, I've got to start with you, can we finally say that we have a strong economic recovery going on here?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we can say and what we're saying on CNNMoney is the economy has hit its stride. The jobs recovery has finally -- finally -- hit its stride.
When you look at the trend, five months in a row of 200,000-plus, net new jobs created. We saw a revision in April, look at that, 304,000 jobs created in April. When you look over the past six months now, it's the strongest start to a year, as the White House points out, since 1999, the strongest six months in general since 2006, so that's good, the trend here for the jobless rate, now 6.1 percent.
But you know, this is a recovery with a big asterisk, because there are people who have simply left the labor market, a troubling number of people who have left the labor market.
The labor force participation rate is lower than it should be, so we need to start to do a lot of work now to get more people excited and included again in the labor market.
So it's not all, you know, rainbows and unicorns, by any stretch of the imagination. But what I do really like to see and hear are the jump in the different sectors. You saw higher wage business- information jobs, you know, things like accountants and attorneys, information technology, professional business services.
Retail jobs, food, and drink jobs also grew. The last two categories have been sort of the bulwark of the recovery, which is why is why the recovery still hinges on raising the minimum wage from the White House perspective, because we've had a lot of jobs created that don't pay a lot of money.
BERMAN: Let's check in with Alison Kosik down at the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, there was a brief flurry of, I would say, extreme excitement over this down there.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was. John, you know, Investors think the jobs report is so exciting they wound up pushing the Dow not just to 17,000 but over it to 17,000 for the first time ever, although one trader did tell me if they got a jobs number with a three in front of it would have gotten an even bigger response. You're seeing how the expectation bar is slowly going higher.
As far as 17,000 goes, many people just say, look, it's just a psychological mark; it really doesn't mean anything. Others say, hey, it can get more people to jump into the market because they're not invested and they may feel like they're missing out. The train has already left the station.
Speaking of not invested, how about this statistic? Only about half of Americans actually invest in stocks, so the reality is, for a lot of people, hearing that headline, oh, the Dow hit 17,000, it means absolutely nothing to them, so you're really are seeing this disconnect that the market is just not the economy.
Michaela and John?
PEREIRA: That's an interesting thing to consider.
Christine, I want to come back to you on something that you mentioned briefly. I remember talking to you the last time, last month when the jobs numbers were out, and there was a lot of criticism that the jobs that we had gained weren't those good jobs.
PEREIRA: Is that -- that's not the same thing. You're talking about some higher wages here.
ROMANS: Yeah. And the analysis has been over the past five or six years that the jobs lost paid more and were quote/unquote "better" jobs than the jobs that have been coming back, and that's been a real concern ability the quality of the recovery. Where's the middle? That has been a real problem.
Over the past few months, I have seen more broad-based job gains than I have seen during the recovery, you know, no question. Now there are talent wars for things like anybody who's got a job in Silicon Valley, all kinds of engineering, and some kinds of sales, even in parts of real estate. There are these talent wars.
But there are what are increasingly becoming the "left-behinds." The people who have been out of work for six months or longer, for them, they look at this report, and they say, you're crazy. This is -- I don't feel different.
If you've been out of the labor market for a year or more, it still feels the same. There's two recoveries, a recovery that's really hit its stride and another that is still --
BERMAN: Wages creeping up, though, in this report --
ROMANS: Two percent over the past year.
BERMAN: That's a big deal. If that continues to happen, more and more people will feel it which what is we really want.
PEREIRA: There's a pep in her step today. I noticed that.
BERMAN: Great to have you here. Alison Kosik, our thanks to you down at the markets as well.
PEREIRA: Let's take a look at other headlines that are making news @THISHOUR.
A wildfire in northern California, it is threatening hundreds of homes in wine country. Two hundred homes have already been evacuated in Napa County. Two homes have been damaged, but so far, the vineyards in Napa Valley are not in the line of fire.
Now, remember, much of California is tinder-dry due to a drought that has hit pretty much the entire state.
BERMAN: Houston police have some shocking evidence to work with as they look for a hit-and-run suspect. Surveillance video captured both the hit --
PEREIRA: Awful to see.
BERMAN: Wow. And the run.
You see the driver mow down two men at a gas station. They flip into the air like rag dolls before they crash into the pavement. The car speeds away.
Both victims are OK. They say this happened after some innocent banter.
PEREIRA: A piece of the facade on the Brooklyn Bridge fell on pedestrians below, all of this happening as the country's transportation chief warns that gridlock in Washington could soon make your commute worse.
Money is about to run out in a major transportation fund, effectively halting, road, bridge, rail projects around the country.
We're going to talk more about this later on @THISHOUR.
BERMAN: Also ahead @THISHOUR, 19 and in love with a member of the terror group ISIS, talking about a Colorado woman now being charged with conspiring to help her terrorist online boyfriend.
Then, the father of a toddler who died in a hot car faces a murder charge. What you can expect to hear from today's crucial hearing, that's next.
PEREIRA: It has been three years since Casey Anthony was on trial for the death of her daughter. You might remember this courtroom scene.
However, we have pictures of her you have never seen before. You'll see them ahead @THISHOUR.
PEREIRA: The question at the heart of what a Georgia judge must decide later today -- was 22-month-old Cooper Harris murdered when his dad left him in a hot car for seven-plus hours, or was it merely a tragic accident brought on by a frazzled father to the point of forgetfulness?
BERMAN: Prosecutors in this high-profile case want Justin Harris to stand trial for murder and child cruelty.
PEREIRA: Want to bring in our Victor Blackwell. He is at the courthouse outside Atlanta.
Also here "LEGAL VIEW" anchor Ashleigh Banfield joining us on set.
Victor, I think we should start with you to give us an idea of what is expected to happen today?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there are already people waiting outside the courtroom hoping to hear what this additional information is that warrants the charges of second degree child cruelty and felony murder against Ross Harris.
They've been here for hours. The assistant D.A., Chuck Bore, will be the prosecutor for the D.A. in this case, hearing potentially six to ten witnesses if things happen as we expect them to. He will also likely include the investigators here, also the patrol officers who were on the scene at that time of the day when this 22-month-old was pulled out of the vehicle. If those charges are deemed warranted, we'll move to the bond portion of this hearing today to determine if Ross Harris will stay behind bars at Cobb County jail or if he will be released to wait at home until the trial begins.
The big question here -- will his wife, the mother of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, Leann Harris, be one of the persons who step forward as a character witness today? We know that she defended him at the child's funeral, back on Saturday, when she said she is absolutely not angry with her husband. Security officials here, the sheriff's office, says they're not planning for any additional security. They have no knowledge of her being here. We have not yet learned who will be here to speak up for Ross Harris.
BERMAN: So Ashleigh, what we know in this case is we know this child died after being left in a hot car. We also know, from the police, that both parents have done Internet searches for what happens to children when they are left in hot cars. But do the prosecutors need to bring something more now? This idea of more evidence for this case to go on to trial?
ASHLIEGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST, "LEGAL VIEW": That's a great -- I think that is the question in this case, because, on one hand, we certainly know about 40 times a year that happens with other parents and they don't all end up in a courtroom. Probably many more times a year people search hot car deaths on the Internet out of curiosity; they hear it on a news story and wonder about it.
It's when they converge it's problematic. Is it evidence? Is it absolutely the definitive? No. I mean, it really isn't, if you think about it. It doesn't look good, but you can't convict people on something that doesn't look good. So either they're holding their cards very close to their chest and they are about to, in a matter of hours, start laying out some pretty compelling stuff -- for a felony murder, that's life, folks, it doesn't get more serious than felony or first-degree murder -- or what they're trying to do is set the bar high and then sort of fall downward from there, to some kind of a negligence or some other charge that they can convince a grand jury to actually indict.
PEREIRA: But if it is -- the question is of intent, right? You have to set out to find if there was intent to intentionally harm this child. If it was just a case of negligence, we know how -- we've talked about this time and time again of parents being frazzled, bunch of things on their mind, I'm trying to imagine how they come back from that?
BANFIELD: It's hard.
PEREIRA: That's hard.
BANFIELD: It's hard for the police. Like I said, it happens a lot and no one ever enters the legal process for it. They don't get charged for it because many times prosecutors look at this sort of thing and say, dear god, that parent has suffered enough.
PEREIRA: That torture is enough.
BANFIELD: It is torture enough for the rest of -- It's a life sentence anyway. So what they're ultimately doing is not necessarily looking for intent in order to come up with a negligence, because when we're negligent we don't always intend to be negligent, we just are. It can fall beneath that.
And let's not forget these are arrest warrants, so this is like the first gate that you have to get through. You have to get to this magistrate, who is not the judge in the case. The magistrate first of all has to decide is it probable -- is it probable that a crime was committed here? Because if it's probable, I need to let the process actually carry out. The grand jury is the one that is going to have to make the decision on just how serious the charges are going to be for this man. BERMAN: And Victor, you are down there right now and, as you said,
one of the things that could happen today is this could get to a bond hearing, which means that Justin Harris could ultimately be released, even if there is a trial. How would that community, do you think, react to him being back at home?
BLACKWELL: Well, you know, I spoke with a woman here who runs a mom blog, she calls herself a mommy blogger, Marietta Moms. And she says there are so much interest here that there are people who are looking at her Facebook page to get those up to moment updates on the story. It is a very divided community on if this was indeed intentional or if it was negligence.
As we talk about this bond hearing, we could get to that very quickly. A spokesperson for the D.A.'s office questioned if the defense attorney here, Maddox Kilgore, would immediately on sight as soon as he walks into the room waive the hearing and go straight to bond and not have to show any of the cards he is holding close to the vest for defense. But we will see what happens. 1:30 p.m. is the scheduled start. Expected to last 90 minutes from start to finish.
PEREIRA: We appreciate it. Thank you so very much. That hearing, as you mentioned, it starts in a couple hours. Ashleigh is going to be hosting our special coverage. You can watch CNN; this will be live from the courtroom.
BERMAN: Of course, Ashleigh, before you go, we should say you have a very big day on your show today. You were very involved with covering the Casey Anthony murder trial. It's been three years since Anthony --
PEREIRA: Hard to believe.
BERMAN: -- walked out of a Florida jail a free woman. A jury acquitted her in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
Next hour on "LEGAL VIEW," your show, you have some new exclusive pictures you are going to show. We have two of these pictures here, I believe. She's seen I think with one of her attorneys in the case, Cheney Mason, what do these new pictures tell us right now?
BANFIELD: First of all, can you believe it's been three years?
PEREIRA: I can hardly believe it.
BANFIELD: I mean, I almost took up voter registration in Florida, I was down there so often for the coverage of this case. The prelims, the jury selection, which took forever, and then ultimately the case itself. And I remember the day, three years ago this Saturday, July 5th, where it was almost as though a mob with pitchforks had arrived on the courthouse steps waiting, waiting, and wanting to know how long this woman is going to serve, if not death penalty.
And, ultimately, they didn't get what they wanted. I can't say there were any supporters out there. Honestly, I never met any. This woman now ultimately, according to Cheney, who is one of her only friends, really the only friend she has on the defense team, the only family at this point of the defense team, residual defense team anyway -- she now says she sort of lives in her own personal isolation of hell, those are my words.
But ultimately I think a lot of people would say, "Really?" Because that's not bad considering the alternative. Considering the alternative was a death penalty in the case of a murdered child. But look, we could parse this case a million times since Wednesday and no one will ever come to an agreement --
PEREIRA: About what happened.
BERMAN: It would be interesting to take a look at those pictures in a little bit.
PEREIRA: Absolutely. Get a sense of what -- as you mentioned, you guys are going to delve more into what life is like for her now.
BANFIELD: I have to say, she looks pretty good for a person who is stuck in a house for three years.
PEREIRA: She looks fairly content. Again, can watch "LEGAL VIEW" at noon right here on CNN. You will see more of those exclusive pictures and more coverage of all of that. Thanks so much.
BANFIELD: Sure. Any time.
BERMAN: Still ahead for us @THISHOUR, people get fired up at a town hall meeting addressing the immigration crisis along the border. We will have a look at what is at stake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real handle of what this is costing us out of out pockets. And please, use the word illegal aliens. They came across here illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I break the law, you're going to come down on me real quick. And yet you are not following the law. You are breaking the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an invasion. Why is the National Guard not out there stopping them from coming in?
MAYOR ALAN LONG, MURRIETTA CALIFORNIA: This is admittedly a nationwide problem and little old Murrietta has taken the lead in getting change.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: You hear it right there. @THISHOUR, there's outrage and controversy in one California town that speaks to a huge debate right now raging around the country. We're talking about the immigration discussion that's put Murrietta, California, right in the middle of it. A flashpoint in the growing border crisis.
PEREIRA: Yes. The people who protested the undocumented immigrant transfer from overwhelmed border facilities in Texas carried their outrage to a town meeting last night. They got heated. They want to know why here, why us, and why can't the federal government fix the problem?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real handle on what this is costing us out of our pockets. And please, use the word illegal aliens. They came across here illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I break the law, you're going to come down on me real quick. And yet, you are not following the law. You are breaking the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: More busses with more immigrants are expected to arrive tomorrow. There are fears of an even bigger protest.
CNN contributor Ruben Navarrette is joining us from San Diego. Good to see you, Ruben. We also have Hector Garza on the phone with us; he is a border agent in Texas. Hector, so glad you could join us as well.
Ruben, I will start with you. John and I have been watching the video from down there and watching this anger and this passion from the people on the protest lines in that town hall meeting. Are you surprised by this sort of not in my backyard reaction?
RUBEN NAVARETTE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. It's typical. I am not surprised by it, but I'm again disappointed by it. The amount of ignorance is really profound, and in a case like this, calling these folks illegal immigrants. We don't know if these kids came across the border illegally, if in fact they have asylum claims, if in fact they are refugees, and that is yet to be determined. We can't really even declare them illegal immigrants. They didn't come in with an invitation, but that's how refugees come in.
So there's that. And beyond that, the sort of anger that we see, this palpable anger, I would love to see some of this directed to employers in Murrietta, who typically hire undocumented immigrants. Murrietta is a town not far from local vineyards. Who do you think picks those grapes in the middle of the night? It is undocumented immigrants, in many cases, works in hotel, and restaurants, building homes, taking care of homes as domestics, nannies, and gardeners and house keepers.
There's an incredible disconnect in Murrieta and really in towns across the country where Americans will not acknowledge their dependence on illegal immigrant labor.
BERMAN: Hector, I want to bring you in here. These busses ended up in this town after these immigrants were flown to California from your state in Texas. Where we are told the situation is growing almost out of control. Texas, the area you're in often simply can't handle the influx of people there.
Give us a sense of what you're seeing on the ground?
HECTOR GARZA, BORDER PATROL AGENT (via telephone): Well, thank you for having me. Basically what we're seeing is, plain and simple, a rampant abuse of our immigration system. We have a situation right now where our federal government is pretty much aiding and abetting and facilitating these individual aliens. These illegal aliens cross our borders illegally. We apprehend these illegal aliens that pretty much surrender themselves because they know that they're getting a free pass.
This is an organized -- it is an orchestrated situation. It is orchestrated by the drug cartels. It's pretty much a rampant abuse of our immigration system.
PEREIRA: So Hector, what do you suggest? Because it is a really interesting perspective to talk to somebody that is there at the border. This is your job. You see this as it ebbs and flows. Is it a sense that, you know, words getting back to people in those countries where things are tough, I know you agree with me on that, that it's easy to get across the border, that jobs await them? Is it a question of having the United States send message back and do some work on the ground there to say this practice has to end? We know the president has said as such, but does it need to go further?
GARZA: Well, the changes need to start here in our country. We need to make sure our border patrol agents have the proper resources and the proper funding to make sure they can do their job.
As it is right now with this orchestrated and this organized situation that we're having, it is a border security crisis. Some people call it a humanitarian crisis, and to some degree it is, but it's a border security crisis. We have to make sure that our agents are able to do their job.
At this point, about 70 percent of our border patrol agents in this area are being reassigned for processing duties. That means we're leaving approximately 30 percent of our border patrol agents to actually do field work, to actually patrol the border and what that creates is a very porous border where dangerous criminals and dangerous drugs are entering our country undetected and making their way to our communities.
BERMAN: Ruben, what do you say when you hear of border agent commenting that the U.S. government is aiding and abetting the flow of illegal immigration into this country?
NAVARRETTE: Right. So I've written about immigration 25 years, interviewed a number of border patrol agents, I know a number of agents and written complimentary things about the Border Patrol Agency over the years. I have never heard a border patrol agent say anything like that.