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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CIA Foils Airline Bomb Plot; Clinton Warns Pakistan; Report: Obesity Rate To Soar, Costing Billions; Driverless Cars Legal In Nevada

Aired May 08, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are very happy you're with us this morning.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

We're bringing you the news from A to Z. It's 5:00 a.m. There we go.

BANFIELD: It's hard to talk at this hour.

SAMBOLIN: Let's get started.

BANFIELD: Shall we?

And we start with this. And it is a tough one.

New details about how the CIA stopped an al Qaeda plot to blow a passenger jet out of the sky. All of this right around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. We've got new fears about whether that bomb just might have been undetectable.

Senior administration officials telling CNN that the intended user of the bomb is, quote, "not a threat anymore."

U.S. counterterrorism official says the explosive device is similar to the one that was used by the so-called underwear bomber back on Christmas Day of 2009, only this time, more sophisticated and harder to detect.

Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon this morning.

Barbara, what do we know about the bomb itself and about how this all unfolded?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, very little detail being made public at this point, Ashleigh, because officials say operations -- intelligence operations are still ongoing. Clearly, pointing to the fact they still feel there are elements of whatever this organization is that was behind this out there. And they believe it is al Qaeda in Yemen known as AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

As for the bomb itself, all the indications are that it was very similar. As you said, to devices used by AQAP in both the Christmas Day underwear bomber and another plot after that to put bombs inside printer cartridges and put them on aircraft bound for the United States, using material called PETN, white powdery substances, a detonator -- very difficult to detect by conventional x-ray machines.

So they are looking -- the FBI has the device, they say. They are looking at al of it trying to do the technical, the forensic analysis on it. Very tantalizing detail -- the person who would have used the bomb no longer a threat. Nobody in the government is saying whether that person is dead or in custody -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: You know, Barbara, we went through this last week. We went through the anniversary. We heard from the government there was no credible threat and now we're hearing all of this.

But what do we know about this guy? Dead, alive, in custody?

STARR: Well, as I said, we don't know if whether he's dead or in custody, but he would have perhaps just been the front man for all of this.

The real person they are looking for is a man named Ibrahim al Asiri, part of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, a very key if not senior operative for al Qaeda there and a master bomb-maker by all accounts, said to really be the brains behind these previous incidents using these types of bombs. He's the guy they want to get, and the financing, the networking and the organization that goes with him, because this now would be at least the third time we know of where he and his organization have basically been able to reach out and touch potentially in the United States.

And that makes al Qaeda in Yemen probably right now the most serious al Qaeda direct threat to the United States, according to officials, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Barbara Starr, thanks for checking that out for us and tracking it down. Appreciate it. Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon.

Meantime, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is wrapping up her visit to India this morning. And she is also weighing in on this foiled al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger jet.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The plot itself indicates that the terrorists keep trying. They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people. And it's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant.


BANFIELD: Our Jill Dougherty is traveling with the secretary of state and she joins us live now from New Delhi, India, this morning.

And, Jill, it is my assumption she was probably not caught off guard like we all were by this.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No, she wasn't. Although I have to say it came -- broke just at the end of her trip and she, of course, has been in China, in Bangladesh and now here in India.

And at all of those stops, Ashleigh, this subject of terrorism has come up. So, she was ready, and she said it's a threat to everyone.


CLINTON: Terrorists in Pakistan have killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis. So it's very much about the people of Pakistan and their right to go to a market or go to a mosque to live their lives. And we need stronger, more concerted efforts on behalf of governments and societies against the scourge of terrorism.


DOUGHERTY: Right. So, Hillary Clinton, as you mentioned, wrapping up her trip. She should be leaving for the States. And we managed at the last minute to get good interview with her and we'll be showing that a little bit later on CNN.

BANFIELD: But what did she say? And was she referring much to Yemen and its efforts to perhaps help us to track down this latest plot?

DOUGHERTY: No, not really. That was not the focus of our interview. I really wanted to get into that subject of China, Mr. Chen. Remember, he is still in a hospital. He is supposed to be coming to the United States.

And the big question is, will the Chinese actually let him go. Will they fulfill their part of the bargain? So we talked about that. Careful but detailed answer from the secretary.

Also, some things on Iran and oil sanctions.

And, then, also a very funny sound at the end. I asked her about this Hillary au naturel which is bouncing around the blogosphere about not wearing makeup and wearing glasses which we saw on this trip.

And it was a pretty funny thing, Ashleigh. She said, you know, at my point in life, if I don't want to wear glasses, I'm not going to wear glasses. If I don't want to wear makeup, I'm not going to wear makeup.

BANFIELD: Well, lucky her that she doesn't have to wear those glasses.

Jill Dougherty, look forward to getting some of that interview cut. I know our editors are working seriously to put that together. So, we'll be running some of that sound just a little later on in the program.

Good work, Jill. Appreciate it.

Jill Dougherty for us live in India this morning.

SAMBOLIN: It is six minutes past the hour.

Two police officers in California face criminal charges this morning for the beating death of a homeless man. It was all captured on video. I have a warning for you. Some of the pictures you are about to see are very disturbing.

At a preliminary hearing yesterday in Fullerton, California, spectators gasped when they saw photos of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas after he had been beaten by the officers last July. The mentally ill homeless man died five days after the incident.

The officers, 10-year veteran Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli face charges ranging from second-degree murder to felony use of excessive force.

Here's video from the night of the beating.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, dude. I'm sorry. Please.




SAMBOLIN: Both officers have pleaded not guilty. The Orange County coroner listed Thomas' death as a homicide.

BANFIELD: Three states are holding primaries today -- but with the Republican nomination all but decided at this point. And there's a ballot initiative in North Carolina and a six-term senator from Indiana are getting the most attention on this day.

Voters are going to head to the polls in Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina. Mitt Romney needing just more than 300 more delegates to officially clinch the nomination. Funny because we all sort of forgot about the math. Just gave up on it, didn't we? Well, there you, there's 300 left.

And in North Carolina, it seems all the talk is about Amendment One. That's a measure that's going to change the state's constitution to read marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized, and that is if that amendment passes.

Evangelist Billy Graham has taken out pull-page ads in 14 North Carolina newspapers supporting this amendment. However, former President Bill Clinton recorded a robocall denouncing it.

And also in Indiana, the Senate's longest-serving Republican may not actually survive a primary challenge. Six-term Senator Dick Lugar trailing the Tea Party-backed state treasurer Richard Mourdock, and trailing by double digits in the polls.

At 8:00 Eastern Time on "STARTING POINT," Dick Lugar is going to join Soledad O'Brien to talk about his career and that major battle that he is facing today.

SAMBOLIN: And one month after dropping out of the race, Rick Santorum is finally getting behind Mitt Romney for president. After meeting with Romney in Pittsburgh last week, Santorum just released an e-mail to his supporters saying he now has a better understanding of where his former rival stands on conservative issues.

Here's the key passage in that e-mail. Quote, "Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious.

Governor Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this, the most critical election of our lifetime."

BANFIELD: We go to another just in piece of news for you this morning. It's one you'll probably appreciate. The national average for gasoline: $3.76 a gallon. And that's down about a cent and a half actually over the past 24 hours.

If you are doing the math, five times going now -- five times in a row. AAA just posting it on their Web site. Demand for gas has been easing as we're seeing some softness in the U.S. and European economies.

So there you go. News you can use as you head to the pumps this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Well, maybe I will go back to premium gas because I've been cheating.


SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know the car is --


SAMBOLIN: I know, but that's what I did.

All right. So, listen, this next story is going to have you yelling at the TV. A knife attack caught on tape. Would you handle the situation the way the mother here did?


SAMBOLIN: What happened to her 4-year-old daughter? Stay with us for that.

BANFIELD: Holy molly!

And then there's this -- a hero who is not even deterred by a vat of acid. No kidding. It's a rescue you've got to see to believe.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Fourteen minutes past the hour.

Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with our top stories -- Christine.


New details about how the CIA stopped an al Qaeda plot to blow up a passenger jet bound for the U.S. A senior administration official telling CNN the intended user of the bomb is, quote, "not a threat anymore". But would not elaborate on whether the person is dead or in custody.

The FBI now studying a sophisticated metal-free device that may have been undetectable at airports.

Police in Springfield, Massachusetts, releasing surveillance video that shows a man walking up to a mother and her 4-year-old daughter with a knife, demanding the woman's purse. But check this out. The woman runs away leaving the little girl. Luckily, she gets away, too.

Police say the man stabbed the woman in the collarbone as she tried to get into the store. She's OK. The attacker, though, got away.

A former Illinois comptroller pleading not guilty to charges she stole more than $53 million to fund her lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors allege 58-year-old Rita Crundwell diverted taxpayer money from the city of Dixon, Illinois, into a secret account going all the way back to 1990. They claim she used this cash to create one of the nation's leading horse breeding operations. Crundwell faces up to 20 years in prison.

And a set of rare prints from Marilyn Monroe's last photo shoot will be up for auction today in New York City. Monroe posed topless for these pictures. They were taken by photographer Bert Stern for "Vogue" in 1962, just six weeks before Marilyn Monroe's death.

If you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop, on your mobile phone. Just go to -- ladies.

BANFIELD: Was that real video of that mom walking away, running away from the 4-year-old?

ROMANS: You know, you wonder if a guy is coming after you with a knife what your reaction would be. It looked like she was caught there trying to get in the store and he actually stabbed her and the little girl was standing there. She also then ran away, too.

BANFIELD: You see look here. It looks like he's grabbing the little girl.

ROMANS: Yes, we can't hear. We don't know what she's saying. If she's telling the little girl -- yes, looks like he's got a hold of her -- if she's telling the girl to run. We can't hear the audio, but --

SAMBOLIN: It's tough. A lot of people are judging that woman but she was stabbed. So, you just never know what the initial reaction she had was just to run, right? She probably is calling for her daughter to run also.

ROMANS: Right.

BANFIELD: We don't know about the whereabouts of the perpetrator.

ROMANS: He got away. He got away. Hopefully people are watching that video and maybe it will trigger something and people will call crime-stoppers or their local police.

BANFIELD: We'll keep playing it. All right. Christine, thank you.


BANFIELD: I want to check on the day's weather story. And Rob Marciano always doing the job for us.

Good morning, sunshine.


Got a little bit of rainfall slowly pushing into the east third of the country, and with that also, some higher levels of humidity and warmer temperatures, too. All the moisture kind of slicing around a cold front or, I should say, shadowing it back through the Ohio River Valley. Boston, a little bit of rainfall. Buffalo, back through Cleveland. Pittsburgh as well.

Some of this has been heavy across the Ohio River Valleys and down across the South also, kind of a dull light system, if you will. Texas getting more much-needed rain but with that is some flood warnings.

Just south Chicago, all the heavy rain you saw last night still swollen rivers. One to two inches of rainfall quickly across parts of western West Virginia. And that could cause flash flooding there.

This front is moving really slow. The first part of it will get through maybe tonight into tomorrow morning and then the bottom part will get through tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow night. And behind this is some drier, somewhat cooler air.

We'll start to shake up what has been very -- more like a late June type of weather pattern and then above normal temperatures across the Pacific Northwest. Daytime highs today, 73 Kansas City, 69 degrees in Chicago, and 67, a little muggy out there. Most of the rain is north of New York.

Guys, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: We'll take muggy. Thank you very much, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right. You got it.

SAMBOLIN: It is 18 minutes past the hour. Time for our "Early Reads".

And from the record in New Jersey we start here. A roofer rescued after falling 40 feet into a vat of acid. Thanks to a co- worker who jumped in after him, fire officials say the man fell through the roof of a metal tube making factory -- this was in New Jersey.

A co-worker jumped into the waist-deep tank of acid, pulled him out with the help of three other workers. Apparently, steam from the acid had eaten away at the roof. The victim was airlifted to the hospital with the life-threatening burns. The hero also suffered severe burns to his waist and abdomen.

BANFIELD: Oh, my Lord. Good luck to him. We're thinking about you there.

And this one will really get you going. Two dolphins killed in a drug overdose at an amusement park in Switzerland. It's one of those headlines you just cannot believe. "The Daily Mail" is reporting this one.

Apparently, the dolphins were at this zoo park and there was a weekend long rave party that was booked at this park. Don't ask me why. It's insane. And this happened in November.

And some of the experts first thought these dolphins died because of all the loud music and the thumbing and the high levels of noise would damage their immune system.

But others believe that something else was going on with these dolphins, maybe they were given antibiotics. But now, they've got the solution. They've got the answer. Toxicology reports say the animals died from a heroin substitute -- opiates dangerous to marine animals because it causes them to stop breathing. They have to actually consciously decide to go get a breath and when they have these opiates they can't do that.

Apparently, and here's what's really upsetting. The officials at the park and the zoologist say that apparently these dolphins died a very slow and painful death. Now there could be a lawsuit.

But it is an ugly story no matter how you slice it. And again, how do you have a party at a zoo like this where something like this could happen?

SAMBOLIN: I'm sure it will never happen again. And, you know, for the vets, those animals are like their children, to watch them die like that --

BANFIELD: Just horrible, just horrible.

SAMGBOLIN: All right. "The Bloomberg View" has published internal e-mails from top Lehman Brothers executives sent right before the firm's collapse. The messages suggest executives ignored signs that the company was headed for trouble. One e-mail reveals executives rejected an injection of capital from Chinese investment bank, Citic Group, capital Lehman desperately needed. You know that.

CFO David Goldfarb write to CE O Dick Fuld, quote, "This will signal a major sign, which obviously isn't true, and put us in the category of those who needed an infusion to help them out of this market mess. How do you spell stupid in Chinese?"

Paul replied, quote, "I agree. We need some help but Brothers always wins."

Lehman went belly-up September 2008.

BANFIELD: I know how you spell stupid in Chinese.



For an expanded look at all of our top stories, let's head to our blog,

SAMBOLIN: And Yahoo!'s CEO caught exaggerating his resume. There's a bit of an understatement. And he's not the first to fudge it. A lesson we can all learn from.

Don't let this happen to you.

BANFIELD: You know you can Google that and you can Yahoo! that.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. You know, Christine Romans is all over that.

You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Hey. It's 24 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. We're minding your business this morning, kind of a choppy day -- trading day to start off the week. The U.S. markets managing to recover losses, though, from earlier in the day.

And Christine Romans was right.

SAMBOLIN: The Dow still closed lower, though, losing about a quarter of a percent, and NASDAQ and S&P 500 closing flat.

BANFIELD: And Yahoo!'s CEO making big news and some serious hot water this morning after allegedly padding his resume.

Christine Romans is here.

You and I have said this many times like this stuff follows you on Yahoo!

ROMANS: It really does. Absolutely. He's new. He got a $26 million potential pay package to come over and take over Yahoo!

And now, everything that he's trying to do to turn this company around has been overshadowed by the fact that on his resume it says he has a computer science degree and he does not. He has an accounting degree.

There's an activist shareholder who has been trying to push this subject, and he is now apologizing. The Yahoo! CEO caught basically padding his resume and is apologizing.

He's telling people that -- in a memo, he's telling folks, "I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you. We've all been working very hard to move the company forward and this has had the opposite effect. For that I take full responsibility and I want to apologize to you."

Now, here's the thing: you got Mark Zuckerberg who is -- with no college degree. He dropped out of college, right? He's running this amazing company that everyone is talking about and then the guy at Yahoo! who is trying to defend some kind of inadvertent error as it's been called on his resume from maybe years back. It's followed him for a long time.

A lot of people talking about this Yahoo! generation of this guy who will presumably looks like he's generation x, maybe he thought he had to have the computer science degree to get where he is. Today, maybe you don't have to make those little lies.

But here is something really interesting. When you talk to people who study this, faking your education or exaggerating or fibbing your education is the top thing that people do on their resumes. And it usually starts when they are young and then follows you forever.

BANFIELD: You're stuck.

ROMANS: Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers have said they catch lies, 93 percent of those who spotted the lies didn't hire the person, five percent of workers admit to fibbing.

BANFIELD: They are the ones who admit it.

ROMANS: But it's mostly now, today, what people are fibbing about is how long they worked some place because they don't want to look like they've been out of work. They don't want a gap on their resume, so they're eliminating the start date and end date. They are exaggerating how they increased sales. Those are the things people are doing now, much more than just lying about the education.

SAMBOLIN: At the end of the day, it all catches up.

ROMANS: It really. And the track, I mean, Yahoo!, Google, it lives with you forever.

BANFIELD: Hey, let's switch gears to do some politics and money with you. Mitt Romney once wrote: let Detroit go bankrupt. He said that in a paraphrased way.

Why is he now saying that Detroit should be thanking him?

ROMANS: That's really interesting. He's trying to turn the -- split the script from the president. He's trying to flip the script from the president because the president has been saying, look, this guy would let G.M. go down and Osama bin Laden would be dead. Well, that's the vice president actually.

So, what you got is Mitt Romney trying to flip the script because he needs to win those states, Michigan, Ohio. These are win states that are going to be very pro-auto worker. So, that's what he's trying to do.

BANFIELD: Well, the words come back to haunt you on the resume or on TV as well.

Christine Romans, thanks very much.

So, more about that -- Mitt Romney, the politics and how this is all going to shake out all coming up after the break. Make sure you stay tuned for the exact words and how they switched.

SAMBOLIN: And if you see a car driving itself in Nevada, I'm talking about a car with no driver inside, don't panic, folks. We'll show you why this is happening right after the break.

You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Nice to have you with us. Here's what's happening at half past the hour now.


BANFIELD (voice-over): The FBI is now analyzing a new bomb threat from al Qaeda after the CIA stopped a plot to blow up a passenger jet that was bound for the United States. That device is similar to the one that the underwear bomber used to try to ignite on Christmas Day in 2009. Officials say it also came from the same lab of al Qaeda's chief bomb maker who is still on the loose this morning.

And North Carolina voters are heading to the polls today to decide whether they are in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It's called amendment one, and it would change the state's constitution to read, quote, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized."

Also, remember Rick Santorum? He's finally endorsed Mitt Romney. What do you know except it wasn't like this? There was no clapping and cheering. A month after dropping out of the race, the former Pennsylvania senator just sent an e-mail to the supporters. The endorsement was in paragraph 13 and he said also, quote, "Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated." So, that was the endorsement -- Zoraida.


SAMBOLIN: Lukewarm.

BANFIELD: Very much.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Ashleigh.

Thirty-two minutes past the hour. New fears this morning about the safety of two missing young Tennessee girls after police positively identified the bodies of the mother and sister. At a home where it is believed the suspect had been staying in Mississippi, the FBI says it believes the two young girls are in extreme danger and have been disguised by this man.

Adam Mayes (ph), a family friend who is suspected of kidnapping them nearly two weeks ago now. CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Atlanta. He is following all of the latest developments. What is the latest this morning, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, of course, is that grim discovery which has now been announced. These bodies were actually found over the weekend, but it wasn't until late last night that the FBI finally released the identities, and now, we know it is the mother, 31-year-old Jo Ann Bain and her eldest daughter, 14- year-old Adrienne Bain (ph).

And of course, that leaves the whereabouts of the two other daughters, that is the 12-year-old and the eight-year-old believed to be in the hands of Adam Mayes (ph) and, of course, believed to be, by all accounts of authorities, to be in extreme danger. You know, this is just a horrible story that actually began on April 27th when Jo Ann Bain and her daughters were reported missing by her husband.

Authorities initially thought by their early investigation that maybe she'd ran off with Adam Mayes. Well, things begin to change a couple of days later when they found her abandoned car at the side of a dirt road. That did not look good. Adam Mayes (ph) was brought in for questioning. He then was let go. A couple of days later, they went back to talk to him again, he had vanished. That's when they went to the property, and they checked out the property of Adam Mayes (ph) and that's where they discovered the shallow grave. So, this is why there is a -- well, not quite nationwide but certainly a regional wide manhunt taking place down here in the south to try to find Adam Mayes (ph) and those two young girls.

SAMBOLIN: You mentioned that, perhaps, she had run off with him, or at least, initially, they thought that it happened. What was the relationship between Mayes and the Bain family?

SAVIDGE: Yes. Well, that's what makes this story so sad and also so very interesting is the fact that, apparently, Adam Mayes (ph) had a long time good relationship with this family. They were considered very, very close. He used to have the girls over at his place In mississippi for visits.

He would travel with the family when they would go to Arizona. In fact, the aunt of Jo Ann Bain spoke to HLN last night, and here's how she described his feelings, Adam Mayes (ph), toward those girls. Listen.


VOICE OF BEVERLY GOODMAN, JO ANN BAIN'S AUNT: I think he said -- I think he told some people that all three of the girls was his. I think, you know, he was just hopefully thinking that one day, they would be his family, you know, that Jo Ann would probably go and live with him and bring the girls and them just all be a family together.


SAVIDGE: Now, whether he was speaking figuratively or whether he was actually delusional as to those girls being his, it is clear right now, two young girls are in extreme danger. We should point out that the authorities are saying that Adam Mayes may be going under some alternate aliases. One of them being Christopher Zachary Wild or Paco Rodriguez. And again, there's a $50,000 reward out there for anyone who finds the whereabouts of Adam Mayes or these two young girls.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you, Martin. When you were talking about his relationship and him, perhaps, thinking those were his daughters, which is one of the neighbors said, delusional did come to mind. Are we hearing anything about him, in particular? What kind of man he was. Does he have a criminal history?

SAVIDGE: Criminal history, we don't know yet. We're still digging on that. But the people who knew him, his neighbors, his landlord all described him as a great guy. They sort of point out and say that he was almost child-like or a kid acting in an adult's body. They say, you know, he was fun-loving.

He was good to people. And that if anyone had told them ahead of time that he would be accused of carrying out abduction and now murder, they never would have believed it. SAMBOLIN: And Martin, I thought -- I don't mean to put you on the spot here, but I thought I read something about a reward being given out for any information?

SAVIDGE: Right. Again, the federal authorities here and the U.S. Marshal Service, that's the FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service, $50,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of Adam Mayes and his arrest and also to find these young girls. But money is not the object here, of course.

SAMBOLIN: Of course not.

SAVIDGE: It's finding those last two girls, bringing them safely back home.

SAMBOLIN: We certainly hope so. Martin Savidge live for us in Atlanta. Thank you very much.

SAVIDGE: You bet.

BANFIELD: Thirty-seven minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. And the family of Junior Seau is now waiting to decide whether to donate the NFL veteran's brain to research for study. Seau's family is consulting with elders from their Samoan culture before making that final decision. Both of his parents are from American Samoa.

The 43-year-old died of a gunshot wound to the chest last week in an apparent suicide. There is speculation whether repeated hits to his head from his football career were a factor in his death.

SAMBOLIN: Shocking new statistics revealed in a CDC report.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Obesity rates projected to soar pushing health costs to new heights as well. Right now, 35 percent of Americans are obese. But experts predict 42 percent will be obese. This is by the year 2030. That's 30 million more Americans in just 18 years. And that rise is going to cost us tacking on an additional $550 billion to our medical costs.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Mitt Romney is insisting that he deserves a lot of credit for the rescue of America's auto industry. Romney has been blasted by Democrats and Republicans for his 2008 view that we should, quote, "let Detroit go bankrupt." But listen to what he told a TV reporter in Cleveland yesterday when that very topic came up.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help. And, frankly, that's finally what the president did. He finally took them through bankruptcy. That was the right course. I argued for it from the beginning.

And finally, when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So, I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.


BANFIELD: Well, it is an interesting argument. Can't fight that. But the White House certainly was quick to weigh in saying that Romney is trying to fool the American people. Spokesman for the president accusing him of, quote, "sinking to a new low in dishonesty."

SAMBOLIN: And Google getting the green light to test its self- driving car on actual roads. Look at this. Nevada becoming the first state to grant licenses for cars that drive themselves. Two people still have to be inside the car in case something goes haywire there, but Google says the cars have traveled 200,000 miles in test runs, so far, without an accident.

The head of Nevada's DMV says the robo cars may be available to the public in three to five years. I am on board with that. I hate driving.

BANFIELD: I can't wait to see on one of those, you know, high occupancy vehicle lanes on the highway when they put the dummy in the passenger seat. They can now put the dummy in the driver's seat.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Did you see those buttons? It looks like emergency stop, a green and a red.

BANFIELD: Got have that.



BANFIELD (on-camera): That will be the button you've got to have everywhere, right?

Next on EARLY START, find out how clicking the like button on Facebook, you know you do it, might actually get you fired. I'm not kidding here. Stay with us.


BANFIELD: It's a beautiful sight to behold. Don't you love that? Looking at our nation's capitol all lit up in the spotlight as the sunrises over Washington, D.C. A balmy 61 degrees. A couple of showers but, really, a great day to be an American.

SAMBOLIN: Look at that.

BANFIELD: Look like showers (ph). Seventy-six degrees for the nation's capital. And look at that old glory just waving blissfully in the foreground.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-three minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date on your top stories. Here's Christine Romans. Good morning.



ROMANS (voice-over): Signs that al Qaeda is adjusting in a foiled plot to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger jet. The FBI now analyzing the bomb. The device similar to the one the underwear bomber tried to ignite on Christmas Day 2009. Only this one more sophisticated and possibly undetectable.

Officials say it also came from the lab of al Qaeda's chief bomb maker who is still on the loose training other bomb makers and making new bombs. This one had no metal in it, but the plot was foiled.

A Massachusetts teen witnesses a horrifying murder while video chatting on his iPad. The murder suspect, 39-year-old Christopher Piendozi (ph) is charged with stabbing his girlfriend to death in front of their 15-year-old daughter. The girl just happened to be video chatting with her friend right before the murder.

Prosecutors say the friend saw Piendozi (ph) stab the victim 34 times while screaming "you're going to die." Piendozi (ph) reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and was just released from the hospital following a suicide attempt.

A former player for the New Orleans Saints says coaches told him to deny the team's bounty program. Ex-defensive lineman, Anthony Hargrave, submitted a signed statement accusing coaches, Joe Vitt (ph) and Greg Williams (ph) of telling him to, quote, "play dumb." Hargrave says he did as he was instructed, denying knowledge of the program to an NFL security officer back in 2010. Vitt denies those accucations.

Be careful what you like on Facebook. Clicking that little blue thumb could get you fired. Six sheriffs employees in Virginia were canned for liking the sheriff's political opponent. The case went to district court. The judge backed the sheriff ruling the like button isn't protected free speech. That ruling is expected to be appealed.

All right. A Hoody among the Wall Street suits. Facebook kicking off its road show for investors. Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, himself, coming to New York to pitch the company's market prospects to a mobbed ball room at the Sheraton Hotel.

He was surrounded by police for protection. Investors in a frenzy over the Facesbook IPO that could value the company at $96 billion. And some analysts is saying, he wore a hoody. They thought that was a little immature.

Now, on the subject of the money, the one thing you need to know today about your money, too much debt limits your choices. Economists surprised by a surge in consumer debt in March, the fastest growth in consumer credit since 2001. Credit card borrowing is up again. Student loan debt up, too. More money news from me in 30 minutes, ladies.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: One thing we need to know, not so much debt, right?

ROMANS (on-camera): Right. Too much debt limits your choices.

BANFIELD: I feel like I've been hearing that since, you know, the dawn of the ages, that it just keeps getting worse.

ROMANS: No one listens.

BANFIELD: I know. But now, you're here for them. Thank you, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Want to do a quick check of the day's weather. Rob Marciano doing the job for us, joining us (INAUDIBLE) without the tie, looking very comfortable this morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's summer. It's warm. It's feeling more like July than it is May. I can tell you that.

BANFIELD: Let your Greek flag fly, baby.


MARCIANO: If you say so. Here's the weather pattern that's bringing the cool air down across parts of the intermountain west. They had snow just west of Denver yesterday and the below average temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees will sink in to Texas and above average temperatures across the Pacific Northwest.

So, in through Texas, we have some showers. And we will take the rain, but it's causing a little bit of flooding, so the western part of Texas trying to get out of their drought. And this front, boy, it's moving slow. It's moving like it's late June and early July, and the northern part of it is going to get some rain across parts of the northeast.

Here's your rain across parts of Texas and here's your rain from Cincinnati through Pittsburgh. Some of this could be heavy at times, by the way, across western West Virginia and Eastern Ohio and up across upstate New York looking at rain. The rains for New York back through Philly and D.C. will most likely arrive later on tonight.

But, temperatures will be slowly climbing up as will the humidity level. Sixty-degrees in Chicago. It will be 67 degrees in New York City. Look at that, 82 degrees in Atlanta with humidity. Start to cool things off a little bit more and get back to reality. Maybe a tie.


SAMBOLIN: You look good without the tie.

BANFIELD: We like this. It's good. It's a good look on you.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes -- 48 minutes exactly past the hour. Here, the Pentagon snubs "The Avengers." Why the penalty refused to work with the makers of the blockbuster comic book movie? You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 50 minutes past the hour here. Time to take a look at what is trending on the web.

The Pentagon and the mega box office hit "The Avengers." The movie, apparently, had no military backup. The Pentagon says it stopped cooperating with Marvel Studios during the production because of the film's unrealistic portrayal of military bureaucracy.

BANFIELD: Oh, come on!

SAMBOLIN: Specifically there problem here. Their issue was "The Avengers" fictional internationalization organization known as Shield and its murky relationship with the United States.

BANFIELD: But it's fantasy. I mean, it's fantasy, isn't that kind of fair? All is fair with superheroes, isn't it?

SAMBOLIN: It was that fictional international organization. I couldn't quite get that out. It is, but, I guess, maybe they thought maybe --

BANFIELD: Our soldiers can't fly either. I mean, come on, already. It's "The Avengers." For heaven's sake.

SAMBOLIN: I think you're jumping on the bandwagon, right, because it was such a blockbuster.

BANFIELD: I haven't seen it yet, but I will. I will go see it.

So, Senator McCain setting up the challenge to Sir Charles, and he's doing it on the Twitter. McCain is firing back now at Charles Barkley who was talk something trash.


BANFIELD: The trash is coming about the 2012 election, and TNT showed that picture of Mitt Romney in the stand at the Boston -- in Boston at the Celtics/Hawks playoff game on Sunday night, but then, listen to what Sir Charles said about him being there.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He's at the game in Boston tonight. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to beat you like a drum in November. Don't take it personally. You seem like a nice guy. You're going down, bro.



BANFIELD: Beat you like a drum. You're going down, bro? Poor Mitt. I agree. I think Mitt is a nice guy. That was pretty rough talk, but McCain decided he was going to tweet this later on. Ready? "Dear Charles Barkley, don't take it personally, you seem like a nice guy, but you're clueless. @mittromney wins. Wanna bet?"

SAMBOLIN: Oh. Interesting.

BANFIELD: I love that. Do you think John McCain was actually doing the tweet himself or do you think he has people?

SAMBOLIN: I want to believe he was doing it himself, but it was probably his people.

BANFIELD: I want to believe that, too, because I feel like, you know, I'm on that, you know, age where it's like I got to get on Twitter. There he is on Twitter. Nice work.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, put a mortar board on the mop top. Legions of Twitter tweens congratulating this guy right here, Justin Bieber, after he announced that he has officially earned his high school diploma. He says he stuck to it for his mom.

Even though it was doing school and work every day, you know, which gets a little boring, I suppose, you know, coming up with deep lyrics like "baby, baby, baby oh," on top of all the reading, writing, and arithmetic that he had to do.

BANFIELD: You know what, though? I'd take that kid's education any day for what he's done with it. Smart kid. And you know what, that's great that he's able to do that while on the road, because I think a lot of people would let that part of their life --

SAMBOLIN: I'm glad that he celebrated, right? That was a good thing.

BANFIELD: Absolutely. OK. Got another roasting for the New Jersey mom whose distinctive dark complexion, shall we say, insta-tan, made her an insta-celebrity. Cue the late night laughs. Here we go.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Hey, some good news for that New Jersey tanning mom. You know the tanning mom? Well, over the weekend, she went to Newark airport, bought a ticket from New York to L.A. for $50, only $50. Apparently, they mistook her for a piece of luggage.


LENO: She doesn't mind these jokes. She's got a pretty thick skin, I think.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Cool things happened over the weekend. They had the super moon. You know what I'm talking about when I say the super moon? Did you see how many folks saw it? Good for you because you won't see it again.

And it was closer and brighter than you'll see it in the rest of our lifetime and it was spectacular and the reflected light of the moon was stunning. Even that -- remember that tanning mom? She was out on her lawn --




BANFIELD: I don't know if you saw the "SNL" skit, too. That was hysterical.

SAMBOLIN: No. I always feel bad when they do that. I don't know.

BANFIELD: I don't know. I don't know. Listen, here's what I feel bad about is that she's not getting a fair shake with the legal case when it involves her daughter, because there's definitely a good legal case there that could go either way, but it's just that image of the woman that was just, you know --

SAMBOLIN: A bit much.

BANFIELD: You can't avoid talking about it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-five minutes past the hour. Ahead in the next hour, new details about the bomb and a busted terror plot to blow up a passenger jet. Signs that al Qaeda may be getting ahead of the airline security we now have in place.

BANFIELD: And still ahead on EARLY START, a month after dropping out of the race, guess who's endorsing Mitt Romney? The guy on the right, Rick Santorum. But you will not believe how he did it and how hidden it was. We're going to break it all down for you in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to

BANFIELD: Just be careful when you're walking, you know?