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Recovery Effort for 2 Children; Car Bomber Kills 5 Americans; Korea Crisis; Gun Control Push; Would Bill Do It All Over Again?

Aired April 8, 2013 - 06:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. Tragedy at a North Carolina construction site. Two children gone after a wall of dirt collapses on top of them.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Remembering a quiet American hero. Right now, it is the long journey home for the body of a young diplomat killed in Afghanistan.

BERMAN: And it could be NASA's next ambitious space mission, capturing an asteroid in space.

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

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Monday, April 8th. Thanks for being with us this morning.

BERMAN: Breaking news this morning coming out of Lincoln County, North Carolina, where firefighters are trying to recover the bodies of two young children who were buried when a dirt wall collapsed. The 6- and 7-year-old were cousins. They were playing in a hole that was being dug out for the basement of a new home yesterday when the dirt wall just gave way.

We're going to get the latest from Richard DeVayne from our affiliate WCNC.


RICHARD DEVAYNE, WCNC REPORTER: We're seeing a little bit more activity out here. I'll tell you good Monday morning. There has been a shift change. Some crews are coming in. Some crews are going out.

Just about 10, 15 minutes ago, I was walking up the road. Spoke to a couple. It was the brother of the father of one of those kids.

He said that right now, the family is trying to deal with all of this. They thanked the public for their respect of their privacy and also for their prayers.

We can tell you that as you said yesterday, as we look at this scene right here that the police -- the emergency workers have said that they were trying to save the children. But then they made that grim announcement last night that this was now a recovery effort. That's after hours of frantic digging, and hoping on Sunday afternoon, after those two cousins were trapped under loads of dirt. Now this all happened when a 7-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl played in a large hole that was dug as part of some sort of home construction project. The support walls apparently gave way, trapping the two beneath at least 10 feet of dirt. Emergency workers tried to save the kids using their hands, shovels and eventually larger equipment but around 9:00 last night they realized that there was nothing they could do.


BERMAN: Seventy-five rescue workers were told on hand working all night, trying to recover those bodies. Our thanks to Richard DeVayne from our affiliate WCNC. We're going to have more on developments as they come in.

SAMBOLIN: And the body of an American hero is returning home today. Twenty-five-year-old U.S. diplomat Anne Smedinghoff of Chicago was killed, along with four other Americans. This happened on Saturday, when a suspected Taliban suicide bomber slammed into her convoy with a car. Smedinghoff was delivering books to schoolchildren when she was killed.

Secretary of State John Kerry remembered meeting her during a recent visit 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. Anne and those with her were attacked by Taliban terrorists who woke up that day, not with a mission to education or to help, but with a mission to destroy.


SAMBOLIN: And later on STARTING POINT, at 8:00 Eastern, we're going to hear from the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, Thomas and Mary Beth.

And new developments in the Korean crisis this morning, as well. North Korea says it will pull all of its workers out of the Kaesong industrial complex that it shares with the South. The North also threatening to permanently shut down the plant that is the last symbol of cooperation between those two countries. Last week, it banned workers from the South from entering the plant, which lies just inside its border.

BERMAN: Battle over gun control heats up on Capitol Hill this week with President Obama pushing for tougher background checks yet again. Later today, the president will be in Connecticut, where lawmakers have just passed tough new laws calling for stricter background checks.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president is heading to Connecticut, where the governor just signed some of the nation's toughest gun laws, requiring universal background checks, and imposing limits on the number of bullets in a magazine. Speaking not far from the scene of the Newtown shootings, he'll again say lawmakers in Washington have an obligation to the 20 children killed there.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every senator will get to vote on whether or not we should require background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a gun.

KEILAR: But despite polls showing 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks, even getting that vote is increasingly uncertain. Republican Senator Rand Paul is leading a growing group of Republicans threatening to block any vote. A total of 13 now signing onto this letter to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, saying, any new gun restrictions would violate the second amendment.

OBAMA: They deserve a simple vote.


OBAMA: They deserve -- they deserve a simple vote.

KEILAR: White House officials respond by saying, every member of Congress applauded the president's call for a vote at the State of the Union, with Newtown families looking on. But officials won't say whether the president would sign a watered down bill without background checks.

DAN PFEIFFER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADSIVER: I'm not going to make any predictions here. But we're going to try to get the strongest bill we can.

KEILAR: The looming question remains, can President Obama win the gun control battle? He kicks off a week-long White House campaign joined by Vice President Joe Biden, and even First Lady Michelle Obama.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal will be among those listening to the president's speech today. He will join us later this morning on "STARTING POINT" at 7:30 Eastern.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

Rick Warren's church grieving with the pastor over the suicide of his younger son. Twenty-seven-year-old Matthew Warren apparently shot himself on Friday morning after a lifelong struggle with depression. An autopsy is planned for this week. The sermon Sunday at Warren's Saddleback Church in southern California was surviving tough times. It was planned before Matthew's death. BERMAN: Family, friends and fans get to say a final good-bye to legendary film critic Roger Ebert. A funeral service this morning in Chicago will be open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Ebert lost his long battle with cancer last week at the age of 70. His family said a memorial tribute will be held on Thursday.

SAMBOLIN: There's a picture there with his wife Chaz who has taken such great care of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Voters from Key West to Pensacola asked to look out for a sailboat that might have two kidnapped boys on board. Cole and Chase Hakken have been missing since last Wednesday. There's a picture of them. They're from the Tampa area.

Authorities say their father was armed when he broke into their grandmother's home, tied her up, and took off toward a pier where the family had a sailboat. The boy's parents had lost custody because of drug charges against the father.

BERMAN: A new report this morning breaking down the best and worst in airlines. Discount carrier Hawaiian Airlines handed at the top of the list of the 14 largest carriers for on-time performance. Express Jet and American tied for last.

The Virgin America has the lowest percentage of lost bags and Southwest had the fewest number of customer complaints.

It's trending online this morning. It sounds like science fiction, but Florida Senator Bill Nelson claims that NASA now has plans to capture an asteroid and place it in orbit around the moon.

Now nelson, himself a former astronaut, says the mission is part of President Obama's new budget plan.

This is how it would work. NASA would first catch an asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and tow it back toward Earth, sounds simple, right? Then it would place it in a stable orbit around the moon. Senator Nelson says the asteroid could be used for mining, developing technology for future deep space missions, also asteroid research.

SAMBOLIN: Makes you want to learn more about that, right?

BERMAN: Sounds just cool.

SAMBOLIN: How could they do that?

BERMAN: It's like the movies. It's like Armageddon. They may blow up asteroids. Technology from the film "Armageddon" to help all of mankind.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan were among the big winners last night at the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards that was held in Las Vegas. Luke Bryan took home the coveted entertainer of the year award. He also shares the vocal event of the year award with Jason Aldean and Eric Church for their song, "The Only Way I Know." For the fourth year in a row, Miranda Lambert was named female vocalist of the year. Of course, she was. Her song "over you" earned awards for single record of the year and song of the year. Jason Aldean won the male vocalist of the year award. And Little Big Town was named best vocal group.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes after the hour right now. And answering a question about himself, former President Bill Clinton managed to touch off even more speculation about his wife, the former secretary of state. Is she running? All the answers, maybe, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back.

Christine Romans joins us with a look ahead on "STARTING POINT."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again both of you.

Ahead on STARTING POINT: a young American diplomat killed by a suicide attack in Afghanistan. She is remembered this morning. Anne Smedinghoff being honored as a hero for helping the people of that country, despite the danger. We're going to learn a little more about this young woman and what drove her. We're going to talk to her parents live, only on CNN.

Then, the search widens for two Florida brothers believed kidnapped by their parents. Now boaters in the state are being asked to stay on the lookout. We'll talk to the detective trying to track down these boys and return them to their grandparents, who are their legal parents.

Plus, the hit show "River Monsters" back and we're getting a look at the exclusive clips of this season. I can't wait to meet host Jeremy Wade." He's going to join us alive. And Anthony Bourdain is going to join us as well with a look at his new show debuting this weekend on CNN to show us "PARTS KNOWN."

BERMAN: Our new colleague, Anthony Bourdain, here.

ROMANS: I know. I can't wait. Is he bringing food?

BERMAN: I hope so. If he's not, we better get him on the phone right now.

ROMANS: I guess so.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much.

So it finally happened here in New York. It is spring, finally, we got some warm weather here.

But millions are breaking for snow.

SAMBOLIN: Can you believe it? BERMAN: Really heavy snow out west.

SAMBOLIN: You've got some 'splainin' to do Ms. Jennifer Delgado.

SAMBOLIN: I do. You're right. I do have some explaining to do. And so does Mother Nature.

And what she wants you to know is it is going to be cold out in the West. And we're talking snow in your future. That's going to start to rise later this evening.

You can see we're talking 8 to 14 inches of snowfall. And guess what? Potential for blizzard conditions to rise this morning going in place late tonight and that is through tomorrow. We're talking for parts of northwestern Colorado, as well as into Utah.

So, right now, we're looking at mainly just some rain, again we've been following this. You can see moving through parts of Iowa, as well as in Chicago. Even some lightning there, but the real activity comes later this afternoon, as well as into the evening.

What we're looking at, the threat for severe weather. This across parts of Kansas, as well as Nebraska, Oklahoma, with the possibility that we could see some isolated tornadoes, along with some damaging wind. And that is going to be around today, tomorrow, as well as through Wednesday.

And here's what's going to happen. As we put this in the future for you. We started off tonight, again as I said, some of that snow works in and then the line of storms comes through really late Tuesday, into Wednesday, and that's when we're going to thank our greatest threat for severe weather is going to arrive.

Now, of course, when you have the clash of the air masses, you get some problems out there. But look where the problems are going to be for today -- very cold out in the West, over towards the East. Temperatures getting very close to the 80-degree mark, that includes Washington, D.C., New York, and Atlanta.

And then tomorrow, it drops off once again for the west. Guys, let's send it back over to you. I have to tell you, I am really excited about river monsters. Jeremy Wade? I love him. I'm excited about that.

BERMAN: fantastic stuff, right? All right. Jennifer Delgado, thanks so much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

Forty-five minutes past the hour. Will Hillary Clinton run in 2016? There's a loaded question. No one knows for sure, but her husband sure keeps pouring fuel on the fire. The former president in St. Louis for the Annual Clinton Global Initiative. He was asked if he'd rather be president for eight more years or continue with his charitable work. Listen to his answer.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would rather keep doing what I'm doing because --


CLINTON: Because I think America will have some very good choices for president.


SAMBOLIN: So, there you have it. Was that the big hint? The audience sure loved it. But we are all going to have to stay tuned.

BERMAN: Hint, hint, hint.

Forty-six minutes after the hour right now. Just a lovely, lovely story. A seven-year-old runs for a touchdown and he scores in the hearts of fans everywhere. Good for him. This is just an awesome story coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty minutes past the hour. The final four is now officially down to two, Louisville and Michigan play tonight for the NCAA championship.

BERMAN: Jared Greenberg is here with today's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, Zoraida and John. You want reality TV? Who doesn't like grown men showing true emotion? Tonight, one side will be sobbing while the other crying tears of joy, and a week after suffering a horrific leg injury, Kevin Ware was courtside in Atlanta cheering the Cardinals to a Saturday night win.

Multiple media reports are saying that later today, Rick Pitino will be selected to the basketball hall of fame, and tonight, Pitino has a chance to win his second-ever championship. Led by the Consensus National Player of the Year, Tray Burke Michigan also capture a second title. Despite a poor performance by Burke in the semifinals game, Michigan was able to get past Syracuse.

To see the complete breakdown of the title, match you up, check out So here it is, and my sources tell me, not a minute before 9:23 p.m. eastern time, Louisville, against Michigan, in the 75th NCAA men's basketball championship game.

And the Louisville ladies aren't making it easier on broadcasters from the northeast. Stay with me. Louisville upset Cal last night in the women's final four, meaning the Cardinals will also play for a women's national championship. What this all really means is that you can expect a baseball bat production delay over the next few days in Louisville. And the college career of one of the all-time greats came to an end last night. (INAUDIBLE) Notre dame got upended by Connecticut. Tuesday night, it will be Utah against Louisville in the women's title tilt.

Los Angeles belongs to the Clippers. John, stop laughing, it's true. The long suffering franchise beat their hallway rivals, the Lakers, for the fourth time this season. It's the first time the Lakers have never beat the Clippers during the regular season. And while the Clippers have a spot reserved in the playoff, the fate of the tradition rich Lakers are still very much in doubt.

And the video of the weekend comes from Nebraska. Spring football has never meant as much. A seven-year-old battling brain cancer got the opportunity to live out a dream. During the scrimmage at Nebraska, Jack Hoffman took a handoff and there he goes, 69 yards. A feeling he could only describe as awesome. A crowd of more than 60,000 cheered him on the entire Nebraska team stormed onto the field.

You see here. They lifted him up on their shoulders truly at least for one day making the Huskers team Jack.


ANDY HOFFMAN, JACK'S HOFFMAN: Special. I mean, it was very special. And you know, I told coach and all these coaches, you know, they've given jack so many once in a lifetime opportunities. And to just have another one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, I think speaks volumes about the coach and the kind of program that he has.


GREENBERG: With all the negativity surrounding college athletics these days, we needed a story like that.

BERMAN: There were three things I love about that, Jared. There were three things I liked about it. Number one, the kid was running so fast.


SAMBOLIN: Look at the video, yes.

BERMAN: The second thing I love is just when everyone picked him up in the end zone, when the players picked him up. And the third thing, I mean, college football is such a big deal in Nebraska, and this, you know, spring practice is such a big deal, but the entire stadium was going nuts for this kid. It was like the whole world was cheering for him when he was running.

SAMBOLIN: Look at him go. He is really, really fast.

GREENBERG: That's all they care about is Nebraska football this time of the year gearing up for the fall season and now their attention on a seven-year-old, truly amazing. SAMBOLIN: And I agree with you that it's nice to see, you know, college sport doing something like that. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

GREENBERG: All right, guys.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-three minutes past the hour. She had us laughing out loud in "Bridesmaids." Now, comedian, Melissa McCarthy, takes on SNL for the second time. Here's her rendition of the Rutgers coach scandal. Everyone's talking about it. It's awesome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, we investigate Coach Kelly's (ph) reign of terror on outside the lines.

Sheila Kelly has long had a fiery reputation among her peers, but this week, outside the lines came practice video showing exactly how far she's gone (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cursing at them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting T-shirt guns.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throwing bricks at them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Threatening them with a baseball bat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You take that ball, and you put it through that hole, and I won't hit you with the bat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While on roller skates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even forcing her players to serve her meals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the bread? Where is the bread? (EXPLETIVE DELETED)



SAMBOLIN: Am I the only one who feels bad laughing at that?

BERMAN: It's nice to get a laugh about something --

SAMBOLIN: All right. EARLY START back after the break.

BERMAN: And "Starting Point" is on deck with North Korea's latest act and rising international tensions. We're going to have a live report on what's going on over there just minutes away.


Take a look at this live picture. New York City, Columbus circle. I have good news for you, New York City, 70 degrees today. Tomorrow, it is going to be 79 degrees. And I wish I could show you a picture of the west coast. The Rockies and the Northern Plains, not so hot. You're expecting a blizzard this morning.

Thanks for joining us this morning. That's it for us on EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" begins right now.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Christine Romans. Our "Starting Point" for you this Monday morning, a breaking story from North Carolina as rescue workers desperately search for two children buried alive after a dirt wall collapses on them.

BERMAN: New this morning, North Korea now threatening to remove its workers from a complex it runs with the south. We are live in Seoul with what this means for the strained relations between the two nations and the United States.

ROMANS: Plus, they were trying to be the first-ever to row, that's them, to row from Africa to North America, but after 73 days, their boat capsized. The rest is coming up.

BERMAN: It is beginning to look a lot like spring, finally, for most of the country. But some areas can expect a blizzard this week. What you need to know in a live weather report coming up.

ROMANS: And potential history in the making. Louisville and Michigan face off for college basketball's national championship. How one coach has more to lose than just the game?

It's Monday, April 8th, "Starting Point" begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BERMAN: And our "Starting Point" is breaking news. Tragic news from rural Lincoln County, North Carolina. That's where a human drama played out all night. A six-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy both feared dead after they were buried by dirt at a construction site. The two were apparently playing in the pit when a dirt wall just collapsed.