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Man Disappears into Sinkhole; California Wildfire Forces Evacuations; Interview with Congressman Bill Cassidy; Awesome Offices Of The Tech World

Aired March 1, 2013 - 06:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It is Friday. Welcome to Friday. March 1st, 30 minutes after the hour right now.

We have some new information to update you on a terrifying situation. And a man disappears into a sinkhole that opened up right under his bedroom. And right now, the fire officials tell us he is presumed dead. This happened at a house about 50 miles east of Tampa.

One brother frantically tried to save another. But the first responders could only pull one of the brothers out because the sinkhole kept growing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mattress, the bed, everything going down in the hole where the first person had gone, and now the second person is in the hole trying to save the first and they're not being successful. So, he basically just reacted and did what he had to do to get that person out.

REPORTER: How deep did he say the hole was?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was deep enough that the person he pulled out to safety was not able to fully extend their arms and even reach the top.


BERMAN: The hole now is now estimated to be 100 feet wide, 50 feet deep.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

BERMAN: The missing man is 36 years old. We are told the home could come down completely at any moment. We will update you on this developing story as we get more details.

SAMBOLIN: And a wildfire burning out of control right now. This is near Los Angeles. We've learned that the fire has scorched 150 acres. It's forced evacuations in Riverside County, California. Authorities also say at least one structure has been damaged. That fire is about 20 percent contained. The cause however is still under investigation.

BERMAN: We are now just hours away from a high-profile meeting at the White House. It will take place this morning. The president will meet with top congressional leaders at 10:00 a.m. Eastern to discuss the forced spending cuts that go into effect by the end of the day if no deal is reached. We really do not expect one.

This will be the first time they are meeting face to face this year to address the latest financial crisis. These cuts were designed to be so painful that neither party would dare let them happen, but they have dared let them happen.

Congressman Bill Cassidy is a Republican from Louisiana. He's a medical doctor as well and a member of the House Tea Party caucus.

Good morning, Congressman. Nice to see you this morning.

REP. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: Hey, John. Nice to -- nice to be with you.

BERMAN: What do you think is going to happen at this 10:00 a.m. meeting today between the president and congressional leaders? This very first meeting of the year on this budget crisis?

CASSIDY: I'm not quite sure. House Republicans actually proposed surgical changes, if you will, instead of the across-the-board. The president and Senator Reid never even considered our bills, but never offered anything to counter. So, I'm not sure what they've been actually thinking about to replace these cuts with. I'm not quite sure what they'll propose.

I mean, they've had months to do it. They've not done so. So I just don't know where they've been.

BERMAN: Well, you -- congressional Republicans, House Republicans did pass two bills in the last Congress. You guys haven't done it again this Congress and you would have needed to do that to make some kind of difference.

And at least one of the bills you passed by the way, all it did was move defense spending into the other, you know, nondefense discretional spending. That aside, you were in Baton Rouge today. Why? Why are you not in Washington? Why are members in Congress not in Washington trying to come up with a solution?

CASSIDY: You know, for months, we've actually had bills out there that we can look out there and see where we are. I was there until late last night. The president is just now coming to the table.

I suppose I could cool my heels in Washington or else I could come home and talk to people and actually learn my constituent's opinions about this. But if the president wanted to have a meeting a month ago, we could have been considering it for a month. But for me to sit in an apartment in Washington while the president comes to the table doesn't seem very productive. BERMAN: Fair point. Whose fault is all of this? I mean, if you're a voter out there, voters are looking at this, going how could this possibly have happened? Who can we blame here?

CASSIDY: The president proposed the sequester way back when. That's been well-documented, Jay Carney has agreed to that, and then, frankly, during the campaign, during the presidential campaign, insisted that cuts wouldn't go into place in retrospect it looks like a political sort of move, and now, he's not invited leaders to come meet with him until today.

So, that said, congressional members are ready to come meet at any time. And he just now called us to the table. Frankly, I'd like to see leadership from the president.

BERMAN: You see the president proposed it. Bob Woodward has reported that to be the case.

But you, sir, you voted for it, as did a number of Republicans.

And let me just run down some of the cuts that will happen in Louisiana, your home state. Head Start, cut for 1,400 kids, 1,700 kids will receive vaccines, 120 special ed teachers could face cuts there. Those are some serious cuts in your home state.

And I think -- you know, that's the bad news.

CASSIDY: Yes, some --

BERMAN: Two things, John. One, of course, these are all terrible cuts. Not sure they are all true. I'm not sure why a state-funded administration program of vaccination would be cut. But that said, the administration clearly is going to do their best to make the American people feel the pain.

It won't be the fellow earning six figures with the corner office and the bureaucracy who's laid. It is going to be people on the front lines, so the American people know the government wants more.

Now, at some point, the American people have learned to do more with less. In government, it seems like government needs does less with more, and so these cuts are terrible. I wish we could have surly addressed this, but also, we've got a spending problem, we've got to address it.

So if this is what it takes to focus the president's attention on this, that's not all bad.

BERMAN: That may be the bad news. The worse news is there's another deadline ahead, just 3 1/2 weeks away with the need to pass the budget. We wish you luck in that.

Congressman Bill Cassidy in Louisiana today -- thank you.

CASSIDY: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: You know, big question still looming: when will we feel the cuts, right? Does it happen right away, or does it happen, you know, months down the line? So, we'll stay for that.

Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

New developments in the search for the suspect in a deadly shooting and car crash that erupted into a fireball. You remember this. This was the Las Vegas strip. Las Vegas police saying that they have their man. There's this picture, Ammar Harris. He was arrested in L.A. yesterday and police say that he did so peacefully. He is now awaiting extradition.

Investigators say last week, Harris targeted 27-year-old Kenneth Cherry, also known as Kenny clutch, while both were driving cars. Cherry's Maserati then hit a taxi and the crash and explosion killed driver and passenger of the car.

BERMAN: Let's take a look now at the top trends on right now.

Army Private Bradley Manning admitted in court he leaked thousands of diplomatic and classified files to WikiLeaks. He is pleading guilty to ten of the 22 charges he's facing, but not to the most serious, which is aiding the enemy. Manning faces at least 20 years in prison when he faces a court martial in June. He told a court he wanted to spark a national debate about America's obsession with, quote, "killing and capturing people."

SAMBOLIN: It's not quite Rocky Balboa in Russia. But I guess we'll take it. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, laughing it up courtside in Pyongyang. Photos of the summit were published by "VICE" magazine, which is actually putting together a new show for HBO, our corporate cousin.

After that game, Rodman gave a speech to the crowd, which he told Kim, "You have a friend for life."

BERMAN: I'd like to give props for writers now for that obscure "Rocky IV" reference at the beginning of the case right there. Very impressive, guys.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. And the boss can ban working from home. That's what Yahoo's CEO did, or they can make the office perks so great that employees don't want to go home.

SAMBOLIN: You never want to leave.

BERMAN: Never. Like they do here. An inside look from Silicon Valley, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Soledad O'Brien is joining us with a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Lots happening this morning.

First, we're going to talk about the sinkhole that opened up underneath a man's bedroom. It swallowed him. Now, he's presumed dead. We're live in front of the office with this incredible story this morning.

Plus, today is the day when $85 billion in forced spending cuts will become a reality. Will the president sign the order, putting those cuts into effect? Or can he and four top congressional leaders come to any agreement. We'll talk with this morning with Virginia Congresswoman Randy Forbes and also businessman Robert Moritz. He's the chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCooper.

The Harlem shake, let's see it John Berman.

BERMAN: That's me right there.

O'BRIEN: That's you right there.

SAMBOLIN: That is not the Harlem shake.

O'BRIEN: I know. It's like the versions of it.


O'BRIEN: Well, because it's done on a plane, now the federal government getting involved.

SAMBOLIN: While it's flying.

O'BRIEN: While it's in the air.

We'll talk to the college students who made this video, and why the FAA is now looking into the version of the Harlem shake.

SAMBOLIN: I think I can suspect why they are doing this, right?

O'BRIEN: Because it seems like the plane is -

BERMAN: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Soledad, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: It is 42 past the hour.

This just in: we've learned that the cardinals of the Catholic Church are set to begin meeting in general congregations on Monday at 3:30 Eastern. And a second session at 11:00 a.m. That is according to the dean of the College of Cardinals. These meetings come before the conclave to choose the new pope and are intended to be forums where they can talk about the state of the church, perhaps come up with an agenda.

BERMAN: And so, it begins. Forty-two minutes after the hour right now.

The White House getting into the legal fray over Proposition 8 in California, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage. In it's friend of the court brief, the Obama administration said Prop 8 violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. But the administration did not go so far as to endorse a constitutional nationwide right to marry.

SAMBOLIN: And after keeping a low profile since the election, Mitt Romney is speaking out. In an interview with FOX News that will air this Sunday, Romney compared his failed presidential bid to taking a ride at an amusement park.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's like, you know, riding on a roller coaster. We were at a rollercoaster, exciting and thrilling ups and downs. But the ride ends and then you get off. It's not like, oh, can we be on a roller coaster the rest of my life? Like, no, the ride's over.


SAMBOLIN: You were wondering. There have you it.

Mitt Romney will be back in the public eye two weeks now from now at the CPAC Conference, where he will deliver his first speech since the presidential campaign ended.

BERMAN: Some really amazing video right now, heartwarming in fact. Canadian wildlife official has to think fast when this doe and a fawn got stuck on the ice in Nova Scotia last month. The ice was too thin for rescuers to walk on. So, what they did, they called in a helicopter instead.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, if you watch very carefully, you see what the helicopter is doing.

BERMAN: So, the helicopter just hovering there. The fawn ran to shore when the helicopter got close. It was scared. And the doe slid to safety, propelled by the downdraft from the helicopter blades.

SAMBOLIN: That's really cool to watch. I'm glad they are OK. And smart of the pilots, right?

BERMAN: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: To do that approach.

OK. So, when Yahoo's new CEO Marissa Mayer announced the firm's employees will no longer be allowed to work from home, it triggered quite an uproar. That is why many tech giants in Silicon Valley are trying to place a workplace environment that beats hanging around the house.

Here's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gourmet food, haircuts, laundry service, world-class gyms -- some of the typical benefits at top-tier Silicon Valley companies. Google even has tennis courts and a soccer field.

The fact is, Silicon Valley companies work hard to keep you on premises away from home.

MORGAN MISSEN, SILICON VALLEY RECRUITER: The most innovative companies rely heavily on intense collaboration, long nights at the office sometimes. And they want to make the best environment possible for those rally innovative employees.

SIMON: Morgan Missen should know. She recruited employees for Google, Twitter, and FourSquare. Yet the world seem to go into deep shock that Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer, is now requiring employees to show up everyday at the office.

MARISSA MAYER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, YAHOO! I want Yahoo! to be the absolute best place to work, right? You know, I wanted to have a fantastic culture.

SIMON: That was Mayer explaining one of her top goals for the company a few months after taking over. Yahoo! insiders tell me she's trying to shake up the culture with an all hands-on deck (ph) mentality, but this now famous corporate memo banning home offices has ignited a firestorm across the country.

JENNIFER OWENS, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, WORKING MOTHER MEDIA: I think it's incredibly disappointing. I think it's incredibly backward thinking, and I think they're shooting themselves in the foot as they limp themselves into the future.

SIMON: But for all the criticism, it turns out working from home is more of an exception than the rule among elite Silicon Valley companies have started ups according to Missen.

MISSEN: When I have recruited for Google and Twitter, sometimes, I would talk to Yahoo! employees that would say, you know, these are great companies (INAUDIBLE), but I want to be able to stay at home most of the time, and they know that's not available to them at Google.

SIMON: And where did Marissa Mayer come from? Google. She's instituted a few perks of her own since taken over, including free catered food and the choice of smartphones.

MAYER: Yahoo! is the grandfather of a lot of internet companies. It's been around for a long time and with a large company that's been around a long time, bureaucracy creeps in, and it's really important to, every now and then, say, wait, like, why do we have turnstiles? Like, why are we all carrying blackberries? SIMON (on-camera): Yahoo! has said the new policy isn't a broad view on working from home, but what's right for the company at this particular moment.

Dan Simon, CNN, Sunnyvale, California.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: So, right now, this is really a hologram. You're really at home, aren't you?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That would be awesome.

SAMBOLIN: You institute a lot of perks and maybe, perhaps, people do want to stay at work a little bit longer.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, the debate is definitely on on this story and that is for sure --

SAMBOLIN: For working moms, though, it was a big deal, right, to be able to spend those days at home with your kids and work from there. So, I understand the argument.

Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: So, there is a scandal brewing in the aftermath of the Westminster Dog Show. Allegations that someone tried to poison --


BERMAN: -- one of the prize dogs.

SAMBOLIN: Who could do that?


BERMAN: In college basketball, when that final buzzer sounds, nothing says upset like fans storming the court, but Coach K is getting a little tired of it.

SAMBOLIN: Joe Carter has got the details on this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. Duke has lost four times this season, and after each of those four losses, fans from the other team rush the court. It seems like a given, right? I mean, you beat Duke, you storm the court. Well, last night, it happened again. Number three Duke lost to unranked Virginia.

The student section from the Cavaliers, well, it quickly emptied to celebrate the huge win center court. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's head coach, he is not a fan of this. He feels like his team and his coaches should be better protected when this kind of thing happens.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations to them and they should have fun and burn (ph) benches and do all the stuff that they -- you know, I'm all for that. You know, they had a great school, great kids. But get us off the court. That's the bottom line.


CARTER: If you're into neon colors and wild animal patterns, then you are going to absolutely love these new college basketball uniforms. Adidas designed them for six schools, Baylor, Cincinnati, Kansas, Louisville, Notre Dame, and UCLA. They will all wear these bad boys during March madness.

At first glance, the color, the color really stands above all. So, at least, come game time, you will not mistake one team for the other.

Tiger Woods went with his rain pants on the sixth hole of the Honda Classic yesterday. He hit his ball into the pun, but the shot was still playable, so off came the shoes, off came the socks, and on came the water pants just to get that shot back onto the fairway. Awesome shot. Tiger actually saved put (ph) on this hole and possibly his round. He still in contention six shots behind the leader.

And you know what, the sports world really taken to this latest internet craze called the "Harlem Shake." Well, here's the Miami Heat's version.




CARTER: Oh, Lebron James, he's wearing the cape and the crown. Chris Bosh, he's to the left with the ghettoblaster (ph), Marlon Chalmers dressed like Super Mario. Dwyane Wade, he's under the teddy bear costume. Little back story here. This dance began in 1981. It became mainstream in 2001, and just this last February, a couple of guys in a dorm room got it all over the internet.

And now, we've seen it pretty much everywhere. For more -- fans storming the court in that big win over Duke, go ahead and log on to Guys, what do you think? You like the "Harlem Shake?"

SAMBOLIN: I think we got to do one of our own.

BERMAN: Everybody is doing it now, though.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Everybody in the studio.


BERMAN: I think it's cooler not to do it to show restrain (ph). Joe Carter, man, thanks to you for that. SAMBOLIN: That's because you can't dance.

BERMAN: I can so dance.

All right. New this hour, the suspicious death -- the death of a prize-winning dog. The owners of a prize show dog think there is a chance that their three-year-old dog named Cruz was poisoned at the Westminster dog show in New York last month. Really? The most popular dog -- this is the most popular dog show in the world.

The dog died just a few days after Westminster while at a show in Colorado, and one owner says it showed symptoms that a dog would after it swallowed rat poison, but it's still all very much a mystery since no animal autopsy was performed.

SAMBOLIN: Such a terrible story. Who? Why? Well --

All right. Fifty-four minutes past the hour.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Police in Florida are searching for a lady dog napper. Watch closely here. This surveillance video from this Orlando pet shop, and it shows a woman browsing through the store when she heads over to the Bichon Frise bin and casually drops one of the pricey pooches right into her purse.

She then takes off. And if caught, this puppy snatcher could face grand theft charges, because the costly canine is worth close to $900.

BERMAN (voice-over): So, this is actually happened. Girls Gone Wild has filed for bankruptcy. The soft core porn company filed for Chapter 11 yesterday, claiming a little over $60 million in debts. It's seen as a move by founder, Joe Francis, to protect himself from a multimillion dollar debt he owes to casino mogul, Steve Wynn. But the company says the filing will not affect business, comparing itself to other titans of American business like General Motors.

And just minutes away on "Starting Point," Dennis Rodman and his new friend for life? EARLY START right after the break.


BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START this morning. In fact, this week.


BERMAN: You have an outstanding weekend. You, too. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much. You do you so as well. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, swallowed by a sinkhole. Happening right now, a man disappeared overnight as a sink hole opened up right under his bedroom. His brother was pulled to safety as he tried to rescue him. We're following this unbelievable story for you this morning.

And a wildfire burning -- frightening, close to homes in California. Right now, there are evacuations underway. We'll have the very latest on this fire that's raging.

BERMAN: Also, today is the day when $85 billion in forced spending cuts go into effect. The president and Congressional leaders, they will meet today, but if no deal is made, and we do not expect one, what happens to our economy?

Plus, the "Harlem Shake." The internet craze now rattling the FAA. Why the agency is very interested in this viral video filmed mid flight?

O'BRIEN: Yes. It doesn't look very safe.

Our guests this morning, Wade Davis is going to join us. He's a former NFL player from the Tennessee Titan and sports agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is back with us. Virginia congressman, Randy Forbes, joins us. Robert Moritz, chairman and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago is our guest.

Plus, we'll chat with Walter T. Shaw. He's a former jewel thief for the mafia who's now a movie producer.

It's Friday, March 1st, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. We begin with some brand new information happening about the sinkhole. This is a terrifying story.