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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Two Children Buried In Dirt Wall Collapse; Korea Crisis; Death Of An American Diplomat; Car Bomber Kills Five In Afghanistan; The Search Is On; Gun Control Push; John Kerry In Jerusalem; The Final Two; Hiker's Nightmare; The "Pillow Fight" Resumes

Aired April 8, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A short time ago, we heard from Dion Burleson. He is with the Lincoln County Department of Emergency Management.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DION BURLESON, LINCOLN COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (via telephone): This is a very systematic and slow, tedious process to try to get to these children. We have to go down layer by layer through the dirt to try to get down to the children.

The efforts have been ongoing overnight and they will continue until we can bring closure to the family from this tragic accident that has occurred. The incident is in the infancy from a standpoint of an investigative stance.

The local sheriff's department will be conducting the investigation, so they will be the ones that will be able to answer the circumstances surrounding how this incident occurred.

Right now, we are concentrating on the recovering these two innocent children's bodies from this situation that they're in. To get them back to their parents so they can have a proper burial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We want to get more now from the scene. We're going to hear now from Andrew Dowd from our affiliate WSOC.

ANDREW DOUD, WSOC REPORTER: One fire official told me this morning it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. They only have a general idea of where these children are buried. Crews have been working to find the missing 6-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy all night.

The two became trapped after dirt collapsed on them around 6:00 last night. It's not clear this morning how that happened. From the air, we can get a better look at the area search crews are working in.

You can see that large, dirt hole which we're told is the foundation for a construction project. Officials haven't said if the two children are related, but we know the father of one of the children is who called 911. I'm Andrew Doud reporting. ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, 1 minute past the hour here. New developments in the Korean crisis, North Korea is announcing just over an hour ago that it is pulling all its workers out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex that it shares with the south.

CNN's Jim Clancy is live in Seoul, South Korea with the very latest on these mounting tensions. What can you tell us?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, as expected the North put the blame on the U.S. and South Korea saying it was their moves. It was their affront to the dignity of North Korea that caused this decision to be taken, but 53,000 of their workers are going to be pulled out, they say.

But they hedged their bets. They used the term temporarily suspend the manufacturing operations there at the Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex, which leaves the door open for a reversal at some point.

But for now it would appear that the 500 or so South Korean managers and supervisors, specialists, if you will, in manufacturing, are also going to be leaving the complex, and it will be completely shut down.

Now this is going to cost some money for the South Koreans, but for the North Koreans it's going to be the loss of really what has been reliable source of hard currency. A lot of people hope that they could prevent this from happening.

This is the only symbol that there is, a real cooperation between North and South, and tonight, it looks like it's going to be shutdown -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Jim, there is some confusion around North Korea's nuclear test site. Are there any signs that the country is planning another test?

CLANCY: Well, this came from the unification minister. He made some comments about seeing activity had been observed around that North Korean nuclear test site, quite close to the Chinese border in the north of the country.

And some people assume that that meant that they were preparing perhaps for another nuclear test that's been clarified now. No, they're not, but it has been ongoing activity since the first test that was conducted back in February.

The latest test was conducted back in February. Meantime, South Koreans still on watch waiting for that medium-range missile or missiles that may be launched like an exclamation mark behind all of the rhetoric that's been going around the peninsula, as early as Wednesday -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Jim Clancy live in Seoul, South Korea for us. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: A tragic story this morning, an American hero coming home from Afghanistan today, in a casket. Anne Smedinghoff and four other Americans died Saturday. The 25-year-old State Department worker from Chicago was delivering books to schoolchildren in Southern Afghanistan when a suspected Taliban suicide bomber slammed into her convoy.

Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon right now with the latest developments. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, her family says she was doing exactly what she loved to do, serve the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The 25-year-old Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff volunteered to go to Afghanistan. Her family said she was doing the work she loved, trying to make a difference in the world, her father, Tom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought she was relatively safe in the -- in the embassy compound. She was always, you know, finding projects and assignments that took her outside, and that was what she wanted to do. That was what really drove her.

STARR: On Saturday, she was killed in this attack when a suicide bomber smashed into her convoy. Three soldiers and another civilian were killed. They were trying to deliver schoolbooks. Her Chicago neighborhood now decorated with flags and flowers.

Smedinghoff is believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed since last September's attack in Benghazi, Libya. Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling, spoke of the young woman he met on his recent trip to Kabul.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: She was someone who worked hard and put her life on the line so that others could live a better life. Our hearts go out to Anne's mother and father, with whom I spoke yesterday, and to the two sisters and the brother who survive her.

STARR: Smedinghoff had been in Afghanistan since July. As her Facebook photos show, confidently traveling with troops around the country.

KERRY: Anne and those with her were attacked by Taliban terrorists who woke up that day, not with a mission to educate or to help, but with a mission to destroy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And of course, our condolences go out to the other families who lost loved ones in this attack. Their names expected to be released perhaps as soon as today. And John, Afghan civilians, of course, also, are continuing to pay a very high price and now an investigation under way into an air strike over the weekend that may have inadvertently killed several Afghan children -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara, so U.S. combat troops are supposed to be out of Afghanistan by the end of next year, but then there's the issue of the diplomatic and civilian presence there. Could attacks like this have an effect on our policy going forward?

STARR: Well, the question will be, after U.S. troops leave, as you say, what kind of security, what assurances can be provided to diplomatic personnel from all countries -- who have missions in Afghanistan to protect them as they move about the country. Can they actually still do their work or are they going to have to stay hunkered down inside their embassies in Kabul -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thanks so much. Later on "STARTING POINT" at 8:00 Eastern Time, we're going to hear from the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, Thomas and Mary Beth.

SAMBOLIN: A manhunt is under way in New Hampshire for 62-year-old Leeland Eisenberg who six years ago took hostages at one of Hillary Clinton's campaign offices. Eisenberg was reported missing yesterday from a halfway house in Manchester.

In 2007, he entered Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, with road flares strapped to his chest. He claimed it was a bomb and held several hostages for five hours. Hillary Clinton was in Washington at the time.

President Obama heads to Connecticut later today to ramp up his push for tougher gun control laws in a state that is still grieving over the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Meantime, a deal is being worked on in the Senate to expand background checks for gun sales to include gun shows, and online sales. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are trying to break the stalemate and have a vote as early as this week.

BERMAN: Happening right now, Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem trying to re-ignite Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. This is the latest stop of a 10-day trip overseas. Kerry will meet with Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier this morning sirens sounded across Israel and all activity stopped for a moment of silence as the country marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

SAMBOLIN: An incredible story, four men trying to row from West Africa to Miami overtaken by a massive wave that capsized their boat. They also managed to walk away from the ordeal unhurt. That's the good news.

They were about 400 miles north of Puerto Rico trying to set a world record for a human powered row across the Atlantic when the water sank their chances. The two Canadians and two Americans got into a life raft. They set off a locator beacon. The coast guard found them a few hours later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG SPOONER, ORGANIZER: Had a plan in place for what to do if this happened, and it was successful, in that we're getting the guys home safe. But it's too bad we have to end now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: It's too bad. You know why? The rowers were 73 days into their journey. It began in Senegal. A cargo ship dropped them off last night in San Juan.

BERMAN: All right, so spring has sprung in the northeast here, at least.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: You can finally feel it here. But sad to say, it's a different story out west.

SAMBOLIN: Jennifer Delgado is live in the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. She's got the good news and the bad news this morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I do. I have the good and the bad. We'll start off with the bad. The bad is out west where we are looking at snow developing as we go later into the evening, as well tomorrow. We're talking a foot of snowfall.

In fact we're also looking at potential for blizzard conditions to develop late tonight and that is for parts of Colorado, as well as Utah. So what are we talking about? All this snow out there, but there is still some spring showers out.

You can see moving through parts of Illinois and Chicago. You're going to be looking at some of that wet weather for your morning commute. You can see some lighter shower activity and a little bit of a wintry mix up towards the north.

Of course, right along areas including parts of Arkansas still dealing with some showers that will come to an end for a little while, but then severe storms are going to pop up later into the afternoon, as well as into the evening. Anywhere you're seeing in red, along with that very strong wind providing a fire threat for the southwest.

But, as we go through today, tomorrow as well as Wednesday, the weather is going to go down here. Look at the area that we're talking about for severe weather. For Monday the area in yellow, Tuesday gets even wider, including areas like Dallas. We're talking potentially some of these areas developing tornadoes, as well as damaging winds, and then on Wednesday, it includes the area in red and that includes St. Louis.

Now high temperatures today are going to be very nice for the northeast, for Washington, D.C., a high of 79 degrees, just in time to check out some of the cherry blossoms. Let's get a live view this morning. A beautiful shot, there it is.

You're going to see sunshine out there and temperatures are just going to keep warming up. You're going to be sneezing and enjoying the cherry blossoms throughout the day today, as well as tomorrow -- Zoraida, John.

BERMAN: Washington looks like such a nice place when you look at it like that.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Jennifer.

BERMAN: All right, so the wait is almost over. Louisville, Michigan, battling for the NCAA college basketball championship tonight, it is really a killer match-up.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, Louisville is a four-point favorite and Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino is on a heck of a run. He was just inducted into the basketball hall of fame and if his team wins tonight, that's a big if, he becomes the first coach ever to win national titles with two different teams.

BERMAN: Joe Carter joins us now live from Atlanta where it all tips off in about 15 hours or so. Good morning, Joe.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Yes, truly believe that we have the two best teams in the country battling for the national championship tonight. We've got the number one offense in the country in the Michigan Wolverines against the number one defense in the country, the Louisville Cardinals.

And as you guys said, Rick Pitino, the coach of the Cardinals on the doorstep of history trying to become the first coach to win two national championships in two different programs. Back in '96, he won one with Kentucky.

Then he left for the NBA game for awhile, came back to college and really built, rebuilt Louisville to where it is today. They obviously were in the final four last year, and here they are just one win away, but as Pitino said yesterday, it's not about him. It's all about the team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH: Well, I'll be honest with you, I haven't thought about it for one second until you mentioned it, and it's really not that significant to me. We have built a brand on Louisville first.

Everything we do is about the team, about the family. So I'd be a total hypocrite if I said it's really important and it really is not important. I want to win because I'm a part of this team. That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: Well, if he wants a piece of college basketball history he's got to get through Michigan. There isn't a team that's hotter right now than these guys. They've certainly turned it on at the right time beating basketball powers like VCU, Kansas, Florida, and Syracuse.

The fresh five as one fan coined them trying to do what the Fab Five, the most famous names since Michigan basketball history were unable to do some 20 years ago, guys. The Fab Five came up short twice in the final four. The fresh five, as Zoraida would like to say, is in for the national championship game tonight. BERMAN: So both, Joe, you and Zoraida are both sort of picking Michigan tonight. But Louisville's got kind of a secret good luck charm on their bench, Kevin Ware. We saw him all over that game on Saturday. How is he doing? What's it look like for his recovery?

CARTER: Well, doctors have said it's going to be 12 months before he gets on the basketball court again. And if you've seen the injury, it's pretty amazing that he's actually going to get a chance to play basketball again. He's been a big inspiration for the team.

The country has really tapped in to his story. How he handled himself immediately following that injury and how he carried himself on social media and in the media all week long. You see these signs during the game. Win it for Ware. Certainly, the emotional and sentimental favorite for the country is for Kevin Ware and then for Louisville Cardinals, guys.

SAMBOLIN: That's the problem. I really want Louisville to win because of that, but I want to beat you so Michigan needs to win. So I'm with you, Mr. Carter. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Carter, thank you so much. Just to recap, if Louisville wins, I finish ahead of Zoraida in the pool. If Michigan wins, it's a great tragedy.

SAMBOLIN: I win.

BERMAN: It's 14 minutes after the hour. He'd been lost in the woods for so long when a search party finally found him, he thought he was hallucinating. We're going to hear more from his hiker rescued from the wilderness coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Seventeen minutes past the hour.

New developments this morning in the rescue of two teenagers in the mountains of southern California. They spent three harrowing nights lost in the woods battling injuries, even hallucinating.

Now one of them tells CNN's Nick Valencia exactly what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLAS CENDOYA, RESCUED HIKER: I knew I was going to die.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After five days in the hospital, two days longer than he was lost in the wilderness, rescued hiker Nicholas Cendoya talked about his near-death experience.

CENDOYA: I'm going to be honest with you. It sounds crazy. I was seeing tigers. I thought tigers were stalking me, like raccoons, everything. And I just wasn't scared. I was -- I had a stick sharpened ready for anything.

VALENCIA: Cendoya and his hiking companion Kyndall Jack went missing during an Easter afternoon eastern Sunday hike in southern California's Cleveland National Forest. They called police for help but their cell phone battery died before authorities could track them.

After making the call, Cendoya says one of the last things he remembers was a spur of a moment decision to climb a mountain. It was a decision that almost cost him his life.

CENDOYA: We were expecting a helicopter that never showed up. So, I told her it's pitch black if we don't get out of here, then we're going to die.

VALENCIA: The doctor who treated him said Cendoya is suffering from amnesia after being knocked out from a nasty fall down the mountain. But he expects him to fully recover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has evidence of suffering blunt force trauma, probably from a fall, which can explain his amnesia from the event. He's been doing well and he is recovering remarkably, probably because of his good physical makeup and his youth.

VALENCIA: But it may have been youth and inexperience that led to the saga. As for any lesson he learned from the experience --

CENDOYA: Definitely bring a compass, water, tell people where you're going, bring a map. I think the number one thing is tell people where you're going because I didn't tell my parents exactly where I was going.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: We are glad they were found, of course.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Nineteen minutes after the hour.

And it is a legal tug-of-war over towels and sheets, all kinds of linens at stake here with Martha Stewart right in the middle. Why it could be make-or-break in the court case, coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN SOSTHEIM, OWNER AND FOUNDER, RANCHO MARGOT: My father thought I was nuts for taking the job. But I took the job working at Burger King. So I became operations manager and director of Burger King in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Juan, he is coming from a very strong corporate sector and he says he's now paying for his sins.

SOSTHEIM: Now, I want to use the knowledge that I gained and give it to others. So I'm creating this living university here so that people can come enjoy themselves, and by osmosis, if nothing else, take over everything that we know. Hello, everyone. My name is Juan Sostheim and I'm the owner and founder of Rancho Margot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. We are minding your business this morning.

Stock futures pointing to a higher open coming off the worst week of the year.

BERMAN: And today, corporate earnings begins, so we're getting an idea of how corporate America held up in the first three months of the year.

Christine Romans here with all the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And, you know, the stock market rally has been very good for people who run the companies whose stocks have been going up.

Did you know that America's CEOs got a collective 2.8 percent raise and some did much better than that. Corporate perks are coming back, too. Up 18 percent overall for America's 100 best paid chief executive.

Who tops the list? Oracle's Larry Ellison -- far and away the highest paid CEO in the country yet again, he made more than $96 million in 2012, up 24 percent. It's all stock and options. His actual salary is a dollar. But you know, hey, when you have a stock market rally like this, it's good. Ellison's perks include $1.5 million for home security.

Number two, Richard Bracken of the Hospital Corporation of America. That's thanks to a $22 million special dividend. HCA had a great year, helped by the Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare, gained 45 percent last year up another 24 percent this year.

Number three, Bob Iger of Walt Disney. Iger got an 18 percent raise after Disney posted record profit sales. Lots going right, cable networks, big box office attendance, theme park attendance is climbing, all those CEO is doing, doing well.

OK, another CEO, many of you, another -- well, we'll say corporate executive many of you are familiar with, Martha Stewart. And the pillow fight continues in court today for her.

Macy's and JCPenney could be back at it at 10:00 a.m. in the trial over the rights to sell her merchandise. The judge pressed the pause button on this trial, forced JCPenney and Macy's back into mediation. He said you guys are the business gurus, you figure it out. If there's no settlement though today, the trial will go on.

We reached out to both those companies. We've yet to hear from JCPenney and Macy's says no comment. So, watch this space.

BERMAN: All right. What's the one thing we need to know about your money?

ROMANS: Tax day one week from today. You got one week, folks.

Here's a tip for some of the stragglers out there. If you make less than $57,000 a year you're entitled to free software from the IRS. Free file, IRS free file program gives you access to your choice of 15 software providers, TurboTax, H&R block, a bunch of them, and lets you e-file at no cost. The IRS tells us 70 percent of taxpayers qualify for this free software. Do it.

SAMBOLIN: Get going.

BERMAN: Good information.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

Investigators are trying to find two kidnapped boys. They're keeping an eye out for a sailboat. There are the two little boys. More on this developing investigation, coming up.

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