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Flight from Gaza; Salvaging the Costa Concordia; Germany Wins World Cup

Aired July 14, 2014 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly destruction in Gaza. Thousands evacuating as Israel increases its airstrikes on Hamas and begins a ground assault. The violence intensifying this morning. We are live with the very latest.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Severe storms from Maine to California. A cooler invasion, even in the middle of the summer could bring violent weather to millions of people. We are tracking what you need to know, today.

BERMAN: The World Cup goes out with a bang. Mario Goetz into the goal. Germany takes out Argentina in a stunner as police use teargas and water cannons after riots break out in Buenos Aires.

HARLOW: You were watching that game.

BERMAN: No. No. Don't know anything about it.

HARLOW: Not at all. Not at all.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. It's Monday, July 14th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

HARLOW: And now for thousands of terrified residents fleeing their homes in northern Gaza, Israel warning an intense large scale military operation is close at hand. The crisis in the region escalating after the Israelis sent in ground forces to knock out a Hamas rocket launching site over the weekend. That followed a deadly missile attack that seriously injured Hamas' top law enforcement official and also killed 18 members of his extended family.

Our Karl Penhaul is monitoring the developments live from Gaza this morning.

Good morning to you, Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, this conflict is continuing to escalate. Certainly no signs of a let-up. The Israeli military said that in the last 24 hours, it has launched 40 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. The military says it is trying to target tunnels used by Hamas militants, their rocket launching sites, and also their training camps and weapons dumps. Hamas, no sign they or their partners in this Islamic jihad, are

putting their heads down either. Again in that same 24-hour period, we understand that 130 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. But of course, the civilians, those are the ones who are bearing the brunt of this operation right now. Since this Israeli operation started and since Hamas began firing those rockets, we understand more than 170 people have been killed. And according to United Nations estimate, 70 percent of those people have been civilians -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Israel has been warning many residents in certain areas of Gaza ahead of strike. Telling them to flee. Where are they going, if they are indeed fleeing? I know some are staying in their homes.

PENHAUL: Absolutely, Poppy. Those warnings have been going out both by telephone messages and also leaflet by drops from the air to residents living in the densely populated part of northern Gaza. The Israeli military have been telling them to clear out of their homes and head south.

Now of course, there is very little opportunity for Gazans to go anywhere but -- somewhere else in the Gaza Strip. The borders are firmly close, the Israelis will not let refugees or displaced persons out of the Gaza Strip. And if they try to head south to crossing the border with Egypt, well, both borders are also firmly closed as well.

What many residents are being told to leave their homes are doing is simply bunkering down in their own homes, although the United Nations relief agency has said that 10,000 Gazans have headed from the northern portion of this strip of land to some U.N. run schools in more central Gaza where they will be looked after. But still many hundreds of thousands still in that northern part of Gaza.

Just to put it in perspective, the whole Gaza Strip is about the size of the metropolitan area of Las Vegas or Detroit. And so these people simply have nowhere to run -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, but 140 square miles.

Appreciate the reporting for us this morning. Karl Penhaul, stay safe.

BERMAN: Other news we're watching this morning. The process of recounting eight million votes is under way in Afghanistan this month one month after that country's disputed presidential election. Secretary of State John Kerry brokering agreement for this recount after threats by the losing candidate or the one who was trailing to create a split government.

The U.S.-led NATO forces will supervise the process once the results are announced. The plan is to create a unified Afghan government that will include members from both sides.

HARLOW: Developing this morning, more doubts about the stability of Iraq where lawmakers have once again failed to name a new speaker of the parliament. Shiite and Sunni groups appeared to be on the verge of a deal before negotiations fell apart. Putting a new government in place of course is key to securing any help from America in the fight to slow ISIS. Sunni militants carried out a raid near Baghdad on Sunday inching closer to the Iraq's capital.

BERMAN: Russia with a stern warning for Ukraine, threatening irreversible consequences after a Russian man was killed in a cross border shooting. Kiev says its forces were not the ones who fired suggesting it could be separatists trying to provoke Russian officials to help them. Fighting has increased since a rebel attack killed dozens of Ukrainian troops on Friday.

HARLOW: Trying to reach a final comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the West not going smoothly, at least so far. European foreign minister saying discussions have been useful, but also saying that huge gaps remain between Iran's demands for future enrichment and a position of the United States and European -- and their European counterparts, that Tehran was scale back its activities. The deadline for a deal is this Sunday. Talks could be extended but only if there's real progress.

BERMAN: Bowe Bergdahl set to return to life as an active duty American soldier as early as today. After five years in the hands of the Taliban Bergdahl has finished therapy in an army hospital. He's expected to begin working at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He will be living in an army barracks with two soldiers who will help with his reintegration. Bergdahl is also expected to meet with the officer who is heading up the investigation into his disappearance in 2009.

HARLOW: And Republicans continuing to dig in, refusing to go along with the president's plan to try to fix the immigration crisis unfolding along the border. Today Congress will continue to debate the president's $3.7 billion funding request. Republicans say the measure is too costly and needs to include tougher immigration laws in order to pass and more money to secure the border. The White House has indicated it supports new laws to fast track deportation proceedings but is not likely to reduce the size of their spending request.

BERMAN: White House officials spent the weekend meeting with dozens of governors seeking support from states that are being asked to host some of the thousands of Central American children who have crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. Some of the states not really so receptive to the idea. In Escondido, California, the Planning Commission denied a permit to turn a former nursing home into a shelter for about 96 children. In Texas two communities passed resolution banning the creation of shelters for the Central American children before anyone suggested opening them there.

The nation's governors furious over Congress' failure to come up with a spending plan for America's highways and bridges. The governors met over the weekend in Nashville calling on lawmakers to come up with a long-term solution to upgrading the nation's infrastructure. Many of the governors calling for an increase in the gas tax. Right now the federal government lacks the funds needed for road repairs and construction projects. And partisan fighting in Washington has stalled the funding. HARLOW: Time for an EARLY START on your money. Asia and Europe both

opening the week higher. U.S. futures pointing in a positive direction as well. Pretty good news after last week when the S&P 500 endured its worst single week since April.

Take a look here. The S&P 500 losing .9 percent. The Dow and Nasdaq also closing the week lower as well. Even with a little stumble, stocks are still, remember, near record highs as corporate America's report card, a lot of them coming out this week, may push stocks higher. Big names in banking and tech reporting their quarterly number this week. On the docket, companies including like Citigroup, JPMorgan, Google and IBM.

Analysts telling CNN Money those earnings should carry some pretty good news for tech. bank stocks, though, looking to suffer from lower trading. The Dow has fallen below that psychological milestone.


HARLOW: Can you believe it? 17000. But this week seven of the Dow 30 components report their numbers positive numbers may be to push that index needs to get back to that landmark.

BERMAN: Let's do that. Let's all make it happen together.

All right. Breaking overnight. Riots in Buenos Aires after Argentina's heartbreaking 1-nil loss to Germany in the World Cup final. You can see the riot police firing teargas and rubber bullets at vandals who interrupted a peaceful celebration of the team's best World Cup showing in 24 years. Sixty people were arrested, 20 officers were injured.

This all happened after the game. Germany taking home the title for the fourth time with this goal, Mario Goetz. The dude is like two feet tall, 21 years old but scored a phenomenal goal in the 113th minute. It was a fantastic game.


BERMAN: The last time Germany won was 1990. They also beat Argentina in that game. That was the year I was born.

HARLOW: And first time that European nation has won in South America. Is that correct?

BERMAN: Yes, it's never happened. The first a European nation has won in the Americas.

HARLOW: Yes. At all.

BERMAN: Definitely even in Mexico or the U.S. Yes. Europe doesn't come here and win until now.

HARLOW: Until now.

BERMAN: Germany was dominant and it was really a fun game. HARLOW: A phenomenal game.

BERMAN: I have twin boys, one was rooting for Germany, one rooting for Argentina. So it was very emotional in the Berman household.

HARLOW: Did either of them cry at the end?

BERMAN: I'm not going to say because they watch the EARLY START broadcast in the morning but it was very emotional and very exciting at the same time.

HARLOW: It was a great game.

All right, happening today a storm set to strike from Maine all the way to California. A polar invasion. Yes, a polar invasion in the middle of the summer. Going to bring very violent weather with it. We're going to tell you what it's going to impact. We're talking about millions of people. We're tracking what you need to know.

BERMAN: Plus the lone survivor of a massacre that left six of her family members dead. She's now speaking out. Her message of hope ahead.

HARLOW: Also raising the Concordia. The wrecked Italian cruise ship set to float again. The dangerous complex operation beginning today. We're live after the break.


BERMAN: We have a lot of weather to tell you about this morning. Millions of Americans facing a severe threat this morning. I want to show you the map. A powerful cold front in the Midwest expected to trigger violent thunderstorms today and tomorrow. I'm talking flash flooding. It's a major concern in parts of Colorado and New Mexico right now.

HARLOW: And in parts of Ohio, they are bracing for another round of damaging storms after getting pounded on Sunday. An inch of rain falling on Columbus in less than 20 minutes. Powerful winds leaving behind a lot of damage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never seen anything like this before in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran out, grabbed my front door and shut it, and I came inside. And I held my front door shut. All of a sudden, I'd seen roofing flying off everywhere and trailers were rolling over.


BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) "Transformers" movie.

HARLOW: Yes. BERMAN: All right. Look at this in upstate New York, buildings

damaged, power lines and trees down. This is near Watkins Glen. Officials are trying to confirm whether it was, in fact, a tornado that touched down during a violent storm Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard like a high wind. And I was like, what is that? And she's really hard of hearing so she had no idea what was going on. So I stopped and I looked. I'm like 10 feet out into the water out in a canoe, and I look and I see the tornado was like, I just saw it tunneling down, and I'm like oh, my god.


HARLOW: Check out the flooding also in the Chicago area.

BERMAN: Goodness.

HARLOW: Wow. Roads all over town absolutely impassable as thunderstorms packing 60-mile-an-hour winds tore through that region triggering flash flood warnings and even a tornado watch. More severe weather in the forecast today. I bet O'Hare was just a joy.

BERMAN: And that car should never have been out there.

HARLOW: Never had been in there.

BERMAN: All right. I want to show you more flooding now. This is Brinkley, Arkansas, where they did not need another storm over the weekend but sure did get one there. Up to 18 inches of rain have fallen in that area in just the last two weeks.

HARLOW: But also a deadly weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. One man died Friday night when lightning hit him and three other people on a hiking trail. A 42-year-old woman from Ohio was killed Saturday when a group of eight also got hit by lightning from these storms.

BERMAN: And lighting creating chaos at Disney World in Florida, knocking out power to one of the park's monorails. Firefighters had to evacuate about 120 people. Disney officials did say that no one was hurt.

HARLOW: Also a dangerous night in Tucson, Arizona. Multiple monsoon storms slamming into the city with Winds over 66 miles an hour. Trees down, power lines down all over town. Reports of property damage in several neighborhoods as well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wind was blowing so hard that it literally ripped the roof off and threw the insulation and everything down on the inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Wow. Everywhere you turn, the severe weather far from over.

BERMAN: Jennifer Gray with us this morning.

Jennifer, I cannot believe the string of weather issues this country has been facing.


BERMAN: What's in store for today?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it has been a wild weekend of weather. The weather -- nasty weather will continue for today. In fact already a wet commute in places like Cincinnati. Along I-64 this morning, that's where the severe threat is for today. It's going to extend as far south as Memphis and all the way up to the northeast. D.C., Philly, New York could all be under the threat for severe weather especially as we go through the late afternoon into the early evening hours.

A lot of rain with these storms as well. Two to five inches of rain possible. This is through Wednesday for the northeast. So that's something we're going to be keeping a close eye on as well.

We've been talking about this polar invasion and yes, it is happening as we speak. Already starting to filter in through the Great Lakes area. That cooler air, how about waking up this morning in Marquette? These are current temperatures, 55 degrees right now, 60 in Milwaukee, 63 in Minneapolis. And we are going to have a couple of days to enjoy this.

Today, Chicago's high temperature is 80. Not quite there yet. Tomorrow, you will start to feel it. 64 degrees, the high temperature today in Minneapolis. Look at Chicago's high tomorrow, 71 degrees. That's 14 degrees below normal, guys. Refreshing break in July.

BERMAN: All right. Jennifer Gray thanks so much. We'll be watching the ferocious (INAUDIBLE) in this country.

This breaking overnight, the mysterious odor forcing officials to evacuate more than 150 people in Stupak, Pennsylvania, that's near Philadelphia. Many of them being transported to the local elementary school. Residents first started smelling a gas-like odor last night. Hazmat crews were called in to check the homes one by one. They are reporting high readings of hydrogen cyanide in many of the homes. Officials are not sure what is causing this.

HARLOW: And a very emotional farewell to a Texas family killed in an absolutely massacre. Fifteen-year-old Cassidy Stay, the lone survivor of the mass shooting that killed her parents and all of her siblings, was on hand to honor her family members during a memorial service this weekend. She spoke out thanking first responders, doctors, hundreds of supporters on hand who had attended that ceremony. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CASSIDY STAY, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: In "The Prisoner of Azkaban" Dumbledore says, "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only -- if one only remembers to turn on the light."

I know that my mom, dad, Brian, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place and that I'll be able to see them again one day.


HARLOW: Unbelievable strength. Cassidy played dead after the accused gunman Ronald Lee Haskell shot her, her parents and four siblings, critically injuring her while they were face down on the floor and when investigators say was an execution style killing.

BERMAN: Such strength.

All right. Kidnapping victim Michelle Knight says she is ready to leave the spotlight. Knight and two other women were of course in the headlines last year when they escaped a decade of captivity in a Cleveland home. In an interview with the Associated Press, Knight says she's scared now by the crowds that sometimes follow her in public. She's changed her name, says she hopes to live a normal life. Knight says she doesn't want to be a celebrity, just wants to be herself.

HARLOW: Pope Francis stirring controversy this morning after claiming credible data indicates around 2 percent of priests in the Catholic Church are pedophiles. A level the Pope calls unsustainable. The pontiff says he is not reassured by that number because of many within the church who, quote, "know and keep silent." Pope Francis telling an Italian newspaper the sexual abuse of minors in the church is a leprosy that must be eradicated.

BERMAN: Thirty months after running aground and sinking off the coast of Italy, the final stage of the salvage operations for the Costa Concordia starts today. Thirty-two passengers died on that ill-fated cruise ship. Now engineers will attempt to refloat the 952-foot vessel and tow it to its final resting place, a scrap yard.

Erin McLaughlin joins us live from London.

This seems like quite an operation.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As, John, our team on the ground in Goglio tells me that they can actually see the Costa Concordia rising. And momentarily we're expecting a full update from officials as to how things are going. After all this is the riskiest phase of the operation. Now for the past 10 months, the Costa Concordia has been resting on giant underwater steel platforms built especially for this operation. And what they've been doing during that time, preparing for the float, is attaching metal boxes, 15 on either side of the Costa Concordia.

And beginning this morning, they are pumping those metal boxes with compressed air. And at first, they only want to raise the ship up about 6 1/2 feet and move it to the east about 100 feet because as I mentioned this is incredibly risky. It's entirely possible that the bottom of this vessel could completely give way. So everyone there in Goglio really holding their breath.

Next, once they move the vessel east, a team of divers armed with chains and cables are going to go down and try and secure that very vulnerable underbelly before they continue pumping those boxes full of more compressed air, lifting the Costa Concordia deck by deck until it's ready to be tugged away. And they hope that it will be ready to be pulled away to the Italian port of Genoa to be dismantled by next Monday -- John.

BERMAN: What a feat of engineering this is and looks like right now. What about the bodies? I mean, I know there were victims there. There were some people at least one never found. Do they think they may turn up in this process?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's the hope, John. Russell Rebello was a 33-year-old waiter on board the Costa Concordia that tragic night from two and a half years ago. Eyewitnesses say they last saw him at the stern of the ship helping passengers on board a lifeboat. Well, his body has never been found. His brother, Kevin, posting on Facebook a prayer that they will recover his remains once the Costa Concordia is finally towed away.

Important to remember that 32 people died that night -- John.

BERMAN: Indeed. All right, Erin McLaughlin, watching this for us. We will keep our eye on it all morning.

Appreciate it, Erin.

Coming up for us, it was a thrilling end to the World Cup in extra time. Germany goes home with the cup and the crown. Andy Scholes has all the details, next.


BERMAN: I am in dire need of a new hobby today.

HARLOW: What are you going to do?

BERMAN: The World Cup is over after a month of just incredible excitement. I was one of a billion plus people watching the game as Germany did outlast Argentina yesterday winning it all. It's the first time a European team has ever won the Cup in the Americas.

HARLOW: Yes. That was amazing to see that.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Phenomenal game.

Andy, were you rooting for Germany or Argentina?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: I was rooting for Argentina, so I was a little disappointed. In the end, I'm with you, John. It's very sad to see the World Cup come to an end. But what a game we got to see yesterday with Germany and Argentina just going at it for 120 minutes plus. This game was so intense. It was scoreless in the second half when Messi, he had this great run for the shot but just right. He couldn't believe it. And we would go all the way to extra time.

Just seven minutes away from penalty kick but in the 113th minute, some Mario Goetz comes through with an amazing goal for Germany. Take another look. Off the chest and then the 22-year-old drills it home. Goetz now a national hero. As Germany won, 1-0 to claim the World Cup.

And what do you do when you just won the World Cup? Well, you take a bunch of selfies, of course. Here's Sebastian Schweinsteiger kissing Lucas Podolski after they won. That's sweet. German soccer legend and current U.S. men's national team head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann congratulated his countrymen, tweeting after the win, "Yes, yes, yes, Jogi, you did it. Huge compliment to Argentina, but the best team won the 2014 World Cup."

And if we've learned anything from this World Cup, it's what the worst haircut in the world looks like. Argentina's Rodrigo Palacio's hair, it looks like this. And at one point during yesterday's game, #rattail was trending on Twitter. And then some genius made these memes. Here's Spider-man taking a swing from his hair, how about Tarzan, and of course there's Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. Hilarious.

Major League Baseball hit the all-star break but before it did we felt a little history yesterday. Giants hosting the Diamondbacks. This inning, bases loaded for Buster Posey. He takes this one deep for a grand slam. Giants, they get the bases deuce again in the next inning. This time pitcher Madison Gardner.


SCHOLES: Goes yard. This was the first time in Major League history that a pitcher and his catcher both hit a grand slam in the same game. That's pretty cool.

Guys, you want much some more homeruns tonight, home run derby tonight in Minneapolis at Target Field.

BERMAN: In Minnesota. Imagine that.

HARLOW: Wouldn't you know?

BERMAN: In the Harlow homestead.

HARLOW: Wish I was there to enjoy.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes, happy great Monday.

HARLOW: Thanks, Andy.

Meantime, violence escalating between Gaza and Israel. Thousands evacuating as Israel and Hamas launch rockets at one another. Israeli troops crossing over into Gaza this weekend. We're live right after the break.